Why Buying A House May Be One of Your Biggest Mistakes
The concept seems as old as time; go to school, get a good job, save and buy a house. At this point you sit back watch it sky rocket in value before paying off the mortgage by the time you retire. Ah the British and indeed Western dream.
Coming from an African household that was steeped in a love of property, I also bought into this mantra wholeheartedly and the last few years my wife and I acquired our first house. As well as saving everything we had we also sold a one bedroom apartment we had purchased.
A house traditionally is seen as an investment and one that is likely to continue to creep upward in terms of price. In truth acquiring a house is an exercise in the heart overcoming the mind because for most people owning a house is the biggest cost on their books and here’s why:
1 — Maintenance Costs Can Be High
One thing I’ve quickly realised after buying a house is that the cost of ongoing maintenance is vastly understated. All the conversations around the costs of a house typically revolve around the monthly mortgage cost and seldom if ever did I hear of the costs of maintenance. Depending on the age and condition of the house these can vary from a few £100 to thousands. When I moved in we had over £2,000 worth of electrical work to be done to upgrade the wiring which then resulted in further work being needed to resurface and paint disturbed walls. In addition a myriad of things have needed attention since we moved in which have cost £100’s. Now it’s not as though we were not aware of some of these prior to purchase however, rewiring aside I had not properly considered these ongoing maintenance costs when thinking about the monthly cost of the house.
Maintenance costs do not readily feature in conversations about buying houses in the UK partly because the whole topic can be quite emotionally driven but they definitely now form part of my view on the merits and drawbacks of buying a house as I’ve seen firsthand how big a factor they can be.
2 — Your Money Could Work Harder Elsewhere
I can’t speak for other people but I know for ourselves purchasing a family home was akin to throwing most of our financial eggs in one basket. We spent a considerable amount of time saving only to go splurge it all on our home.