Whether directly or indirectly, I hear this quite often from individuals when chatting about buying their own place. Buying a home = responsibility. Absolutely. There’s the mortgage payment binding you for 30 years, that lawn you need to maintain so the neighbors grass doesn’t look greener than yours and the constant repairs and maintenance to keep everything running smoothly. Ugh. Doesn’t sound like much fun. However, there are ways to minimize these responsibilities that many people are just not aware of.
First, let’s discuss the mortgage side of things. Signing off on loan documents that bind you to 30 years of paying off a loan can sound a little daunting to say the least; especially for those who the word “commitment” doesn’t make them jump out of their socks with excitement. However, many people do not realize you can sell a home as soon as you purchase it. There is NO requirement for you to hold onto the property for any amount of time. So if you end up moving in a year or two, sell it! All the principal balance in your monthly mortgage payments would be built up equity which would return to your pocket upon selling. If you’re in a good market, many times, your home sale will even give you a profit. Compared to giving your money away renting every month, this amount of responsibility is well worth it in the long run.
Now let’s discuss Homeowner’s Associations. For a set monthly fee, Homeowner’s Associations are created for specific communities to take care of things like snow removal, landscaping maintenance, exterior maintenance (such as roof and siding) and occasionally certain utilities like water. These are common for condos and town homes, but also for newly built single family home communities. In many of these cases, the only thing you would need to maintain/hold responsibility for would be anything within the interior walls of the home.
Great, so we’ve discussed how to mitigate the mortgage and exterior maintenance responsibilities of home ownership. But how about the interior maintenance? What if the sink starts leaking or the furnace stops working? For someone who doesn’t have much experience with home maintenance, this can be a bit overwhelming. However, do not fear! There is a solution for this as well, it is called a Home Warranty. Ranging from $400-$700 you can purchase an annual home warranty coverage which covers systems in the home, appliances, etc. If something can be fixed, they fix it, and if it needs to be replaced then it is replaced. All you pay is a set service call fee. As you can see, landlord benefits are easily replaced with resources such as home warranties and HOA’s.
So yes, owning a home means taking on responsibilities that one doesn’t have to deal with when renting. However, it is important to know that there are ways to mitigate those seemly daunting responsibilities so that they are manageable based on your level of comfort. If you get those homeowner responsibilities under control, you can then enjoy the financial and long term benefits that come with owning your home.
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Ariel Mora, Lorena Zamora