This past weekend, I finally got around to doing some long overdue tasks around the house. One of the major things I had planned to do was pressure wash and seal the deck. I've been meaning to do it for quite awhile but it was one of those things that I kept putting off over and over again. As a homeowner, if something needs to be done around the house, it's up to me to get it done or pay someone to do it for me.

If you are a homeowner, a house maintenance fund is a must. There will be things that need to be done that you don't have the time or ability to do on your own. From what I've heard, the best rule of thumb is to set aside at least 1-2 % of the cost of your house for your maintenance fund. I keep at least $1000 set aside for any emergencies that may come along. I bought my home brand new so thankfully, I haven't had anything major come up yet.

With all of the affordable properties out there, you may be thinking of taking the leap towards home ownership. If you are thinking about becoming a homeowner, consider these pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Freedom. I like being able to make any changes in my home whenever I want. There are several things I want to do around my house and if I have the money to do it, I can. If I don't like my paint color, I can change it without having to ask anyone.
  • Tax Benefits. As an unmarried person with no kids, there are not a lot of things to reduce the amount of the taxes I owe the government. As a homeowner, I get to write off the interest I pay to the mortgage company each month. In addition to being able to deduct the interest I pay on my home loan, I can also deduct the cost of my homeowners' insurance and property taxes.
  • Equity. Each month that I make my mortgage payment, a little bit of the money (and I do mean a little bit) goes toward the principal balance. After 30 years, if I make all of my payments as agreed, the property will be mine free and clear. It's also nice that most home loans allow you to make additional payments towards the principal allowing you to pay less in interest and own your home sooner.
Cons:
  • Freedom. Although it was listed as a pro, this can also be a con. As a homeowner, you can't just pack up and decide to move without figuring out what to do with your house. If you choose to sell your home, you have to deal with your house possibly sitting on the market forever, losing money if your home has decreased in value or having to come out of pocket to close the deal if you do sell the home. If selling your home is not a favorable financial option, you find yourself becoming a landlord.
  • Maintenance. Living in a rental property usually means all repairs are the responsibility of the owner. If you are the homeowner, you are your own landlord. When the toilet backs up or the water heater goes out, your are responsible for the repairs. Remember that home maintenance fund I mentioned earlier? Here is where it comes in handy.
  • HOA. If you live in a newer subdivision, you probably have a homeowners' association. The responsibility of the homeowners' association is to keep the subdivision looking nice and helping to maintain property values. Although you can do what you want on the inside of your home, the homeowners' association usually has the final say on what happens outside your home. Usually, there are rules governing paint colors, grass height, lawn decorations and rental restrictions.
  • Higher Expenses. Buying a home usually involves spending more money. If you are buying a home that's larger than your rented place, your monthly expenses will probably increase. Having more space means higher utility bills.
I'm not saying that buying a home is all good or all bad. I'm just saying that it's not for everyone. Evaluate your individual situation to determine if it is right for you.

Have you recently become a first-time homeowner? How is it working out for you?

3 comments

  1. Beth // May 6, 2010 at 8:48 AM  

    Great points! I'm thinking of buying a condo, so this post helped.

    I would like to add that "maintenance" should also go under the pro column. I live in an apartment managed by a very stingy property management company. It's time consuming (and painful!) to try to get them to fix anything that isn't an emergency. In my own home, I figure I can make repairs anytime I want without needing special permission first. (I'm paying for it either way!)

  2. Laura // May 6, 2010 at 10:53 AM  

    I have owned my home for about 3 years now, and despite the cons I do love it. I am paying it down quickly; I just refinanced. I think of it as a future rental property if I was to move. There are tons of cons, and when things break suddenly it's a pain not to just call someone who does it and pays for it, but I love having a "permanent address" of my own!

  3. odysseustoday // May 9, 2010 at 12:31 AM  

    Great Article.

    My wife and I are currently renting and have been renters for over 4 years now. This is largely due to the transitit nature of my job situation at the moment.

    We are currently saving up a nice cushion of cash to ensure we do not hit that PMI of <20% down on the house.

    I know it will be exciting, but as you pointed out in your post it will be a lot of work as well owning a house. Sometimes having no options to change things is freeing as you know you can't change them so you just shrug the changes off.