This is a continuation of Greg’s podcast, “Homeowner Joys and Challenges”. In his podcast, he interviews his wife Laura and neighbour Rich who describe the various projects and costs that come with home ownership, but in the end, concur that the joys far outweigh the challenges.
I absolutely concur! I’d like to share my experience with home ownership.
I was 24 years old when I bought my first house. I saw an ad in the paper for a rental community which was converting to a condo/townhome community. Basically, the current tenants were given first dibs at purchasing the homes they were in, and then the homes were put on the public market with an attractive incentive for people like me who only made about $30,000/year. I could rent the home for the first three months, then the rent I had paid would be put toward the 5% down-payment and I could either come up with the rest of the money on my own and accept a reduction in interest rate, or the bank would pay the remaining balance. How could I not! The purchase price included a total renovation of the house, so it felt as though I was buying a brand new house, and the condo fees $120/month covered everything on the outside of the house and lawn maintenance. Life was good. I later spent about $300 on a deck that my friends helped me build before I had to sell it due to a move for work.
The second house I owned wasn’t until 2006. I had saved the equity from my first home and used it for this house after my second move in four years. This house was slightly different. It was over 100 years old, had just been completely renovated (sensing a trend here?) and sat on a half acre lot. Property ownership was completely new to me. Property ownership in the country added a few challenges that I hadn’t previously considered: sump pumps failing during the spring thaw; maintaining the bacterial balance in the septic system; emptying the septic system; ensuring heating oil delivery came BEFORE the oil ran out; paying for your heating costs up front; carpenter ants; push mowing a HALF ACRE of grass (I did the front, side and front half of the backyard, letting the treed area in the back go wild); buying your garbage bags for $3 apiece which would be the cost of pickup included etc. But, as Jason had concluded, living in the country; low, low taxes, and having a place you can call your own was worth it all for me!
My third home (another work related move) was an suburbia freehold townhouse. It was a bout 16 years old. When I first moved in, it seemed to be fine, however within two years, it needed a new roof. Then it needed some structural work done on the sill plate and floor boards which were rotting due to a leak. Then more carpenter ants. Then I had to replace the furnace. Then the chimney started leaking. Then the windows needed to be replaced. Then we decided to finish the basement (once we were sure all the leaks and rotting were permanently repaired). Then we thought interlocking brick, a newly paved driveway and the removal of some pretty crazy willows/bushes would be nice.
My fourth home was a downtown condo apartment (another work move. Sigh). I absolutely adored the condo. It was two bedroom, two bath corner unit with views of the river and mountains from downtown. We had no issues with the condo, it was a relaxing, convenient place to live. But way too small for our outdoor lifestyle. No rooms for kayaks, bikes, two cars, golf clubs, climbing gear, SCUBA gear, motorcycle, gym equipment. We just couldn’t make it work. So we lived in it for a year, rented it for a year, then sold it to someone who truly appreciated the place. And moved back into the 2008 place which we still own and have rented out twice now due to other work-related moves. Whew!
And after all that, I still feel that home ownership is a solid financial investment if you’re in it for the long term (why pay off someone else’s mortgage?) but only if you are financially capable of all the costs that you may come across!