The Risks and Rewards of Home Ownership

After buying a house three years ago, I have mixed feelings on the value of owning a home. Many see it as one of the best investments available, but there are many risks to consider.

Risks:

  • The costs of buying and selling are shockingly high
    • Realtor, Lawyer, Inspector, Movers, etc.
      • Some of these can be avoided, while others are baked into transactions
  • Condo fees
    • Poor management can lead to fee increases or cash calls
  • Interest rates
    • Seemingly small changes in interest rates can significantly disrupt budgets
  • Natural Disasters
    • Climate change or no, there are plenty of events capable of significant damage to homes
  • Industrial shifts
    • As we saw with oil, many booming regions can quickly cool with pronounced downturns in major industries
  • Shifting demand patterns
    • Technologies, like self driving cars and virtual reality, could rapidly shift demand to other neigborhoods
    • 3D printing, still relatively new, may vastly decrease the cost of new homes
  • Opportunity costs
    • In many cases, investing the extra costs of home ownership, rather than buying, can lead to far greater returns
      • Such returns are often more accessible

Rewards:

  • Control
    • Upgrade and renovate as you see fit
      • Potential to improve resale value
      • Learn valueable skills from various trades
    • Easier to have pets
  • Stability
    • The property is yours until you choose to leave it
  • Privacy
    • You control who can access your property
  • Cost sharing
    • Extra rooms or parking spaces can be rented out
      • Some people end up covering their housing costs with rental income
  • Favourable shifts in demand
    • Many housing markets have seen explosive growth in property values

 

There are many unique situations that will simplify, or complicate the choice.  There are no easy answers with commitments as big as a house. I hope this list leaves you a little more informed. Please comment with any important factors I missed.

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