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I hate owning a house

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January 07, 2010 – Comments (20)

Let me be clear: I never thought of my home as an investment, it's affordable, and I'm neither down nor up a significant amount on the purchase. But it's a massive time and fun suck, and I regret ever having bought it (and that's despite the fact that I like my garden, appreciate the tax benefits, and enjoy the peace of mind that I have no landlord to worry about).

Am I a freak? Well, it was nice to read in The New York Times today that I'm not alone:

Alan Berks the renter had spent his evenings with friends at African dance nights and jazz clubs. Alan Berks the homeowner lost an entire day rearranging the living room furniture. “I did find a spot for the couch that made me happy,” he said. “I was proud of myself. But where the couch is — that’s how I’m going to measure my happiness from now on? I remember thinking: ‘This is how people live? Why am I doing this?’ ”

I've never attended an African dance night, but I can sympathize with the sentiment.

20 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On January 07, 2010 at 1:13 PM, TMFJoeInvestor (95.46) wrote:

For what it is worth, I'm glad to have friends like you who do own nice homes. I live vicariously through your garden and kitchen. 

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#2) On January 07, 2010 at 1:26 PM, TMFCrocoStimpy (95.36) wrote:

Though I can appreciate the general sentiment, having spent an inordinate amount of time maintaining my house, the follow seems a little odd:

Alan Berks the renter had spent his evenings with friends at African dance nights and jazz clubs. Alan Berks the homeowner lost an entire day rearranging the living room furniture

Does Alan Berks the renter not own any furniture?

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#3) On January 07, 2010 at 1:34 PM, carcassgrinder (35.26) wrote:

mmbop....

     I wouldn't go to the point of saying I hate it....but BOY would I do it different next time...and I will when there is a next time.  It has nothing to do with the money.  But I now know all the little things to check for....I have spent much time and money to customize my house to my tastes.  

There is also something about feeling locked in that I don't like.  Buying a house was always a commitment...but when I bought 2 years ago...the chances of reselling were rather high....so I didn't feel locked to that house.  Now the chances of selling are minimal at best....and I feel like I'm going to live in this particular house for a very long time whether I like it or not.

        To make it worse...when I bought 2 yrs. ago....I bought in an "up and coming" rehab neighborhood (about 50% rehab and 50% hood) back when i purchased.  The prospects of the neighborhood were high at that time.  Since the decline in RE.....nothing has happened in my neighborhood except more foreclosures and no more rehab.....several of the rehabs and nicer homes are for sale.  Things aren't looking great.

       Perhaps this is the time to take advantage of all the foreclosures in the neighborhood as investments....but my flavor to buy any more projects is sour. 

      

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#4) On January 07, 2010 at 2:21 PM, miteycasey (30.89) wrote:

"lost an entire day rearranging the living room furniture"

WTF?

seriusly....did he not have a plan as to how he was going to do it?

An entire day? The guy needs to get a life.
I moved ever piece of furnature in my living room, (two couches, two love seats, a recliner, big screen, audio equipment) and it took me all of 1 hour.

Some people will make an excuse for anything.

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#5) On January 07, 2010 at 3:12 PM, GNUBEE (26.92) wrote:

You won't hate owning when double digit inflation hits....

And yes, a whole day, one couch? really Berks?, Really?

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#6) On January 07, 2010 at 4:09 PM, TMFHelical (98.75) wrote:

Tim,

You don't have kids do you? I think what both you and the guy quoted in the article are really saying are:  'Boy, being older and responsible kinda bites sometimes.'

Well, yeah.

TMFHelical

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#7) On January 07, 2010 at 4:28 PM, TMFMmbop (38.56) wrote:

Fair point, Ralph, but does getting older really require my wife and I debate paint colors? And why does Benjamin Moore make 100 different shades of white?

As for the day spent moving the couch, maybe he practices feng shui?

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#8) On January 07, 2010 at 4:29 PM, JakilaTheHun (99.94) wrote:

Helical,

I don't think it has anything to do with responsibility.  Owning a house is a lot of major upkeep/maintenance and we live in a society where we are expected to give fairly heavy time to our employers and where many of us have to deal with dreadful traffic sucking even more time out of our schedules.  

When I buy, I plan on buying a condo or townhouse.  I don't want to deal with a lawn or any garbage like that.  But even at that, any time something breaks, I'll have to fix it.  No maintenance guy who specializes in that like you might find at an apartment complex.  You have to figure out what you need to do, who you need to call, and how much you have to spend yourself.  

I'm sure there are already arrangements like this somewhere, but to me, it'd actually be better to own your home in some sort of community arrangement, where there was shared maintenance and you simply pay a yearly fee for it.  

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#9) On January 07, 2010 at 4:32 PM, edyboom223 (96.34) wrote:

Tim,

I love your investment advice, and I always appreciate the opportunity to get to know my advisors on a more personal level.  Also, I got BBSI in the 10's, so it's looking pretty good in a short period of time. 

Good luck with the house!

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#10) On January 07, 2010 at 4:34 PM, ocsurf (< 20) wrote:

There's a ton of factors that go into owning a house. I, for one, absolutely LOVE it!! I live in a great location and have great neighbors. I take pride in my landscaping and home improvement projects.

I guess when you retire you can buy an RV and just travel around the US and stop in new, scenic RV parks each week.

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#11) On January 07, 2010 at 4:50 PM, TMFMmbop (38.56) wrote:

@edyboom223

BBSI is making a comeback... While the job market will still be volatile in 2010, they're doing better than their peers, which bodes well eventually.

@ocsurf

You're right it's not all bad...but given your handle, you probably have a better view and better weather than I do. :-)

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#12) On January 07, 2010 at 5:12 PM, Borbality (47.06) wrote:

I do get frustrated, since I bought my first home in May 2008, at age 25, thinking it was a good time. It was a pretty good time for us to do this, and it was something we really wanted as newlyweds, but we sure don't save as much money anymore! 

Renting isn't much cheaper where we live, if we wanted a nice place with some privacy. And it is sort of romantic and old-timey for us to have a strict plan for frugality while still living comfortably. Much different from the world my parents brought me up in through the 90s and early 2000s with imaginary money. 

 It is also depressing when the neighbors are getting kicked out and houses are sitting empty and ugly for months and months. 

Houses are cheaper and interest rates are slightly better now, but we'd probably be too afraid of losing our jobs to buy a house now. I didn't buy the house hoping to sell it for a profit anytime soon, but it is especially sober to see what happened just since we bought. However, it's nice having payments that won't change, even if they seem high now. I suppose that's the whole point.

 BTW I do enjoy the DIY parts of owning a house, even though i'm not the handiest guy around. I also like writing off the interest! This adds greatly to our meager savings. 

 To one of the above posters RE: maintenance, it sounds like you might be interested in something like a Home Warranty. For our first year, if any of our appliances went out, it was a flat $60 to fix it. I didn't renew the policy, but it was nice knowing that if the AC went out, it wouldn't break the bank during our first year of making payments. I can't remember how much it cost for the whole year, but i think it was only a couple hundred. We were with American Home Shield.

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#13) On January 07, 2010 at 5:32 PM, Turfscape (43.31) wrote:

GNUBEE wrote:
"You won't hate owning when double digit inflation hits...."

Because inflation doesn't impact the cost of home ownership? If I'm not mistaken, homeowners still pay property taxes, gas, electricity, water, and sewer bills...plus, anything goes wrong, it's haul-yer-butt to Lowe's to buy some of that double-digit inflation merchandise to fix it (or pay some other guy double-digit inflation wages to come to your house at their convenience to fix it).

And then, of course, when that awsome opportunity to start the life you've always wanted in New Zealand comes up, you'll miss out because you can't sell your home in a market like this. You'd go, but you still need to make the mortgage payments, and insurance payments, and tax payments and maintain the yard and sidewalk per municipal regulations.

Home ownership ain't no magic bullet. It really suits those who like owning a home. It doesn't necessarily suit those who simply like having a place to live.

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#14) On January 07, 2010 at 5:58 PM, Option1307 (29.75) wrote:

Interesting thoughts, I'm glad I am a renter for the foreseeable future.

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#15) On January 07, 2010 at 6:02 PM, dantefromsomm (< 20) wrote:

Millionaire Robert kiyosaki says some of the same.I will buy many houses to rent and have run by hired management before i ever buy one for myself.

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#16) On January 07, 2010 at 6:07 PM, tkell31 (24.11) wrote:

Great inflationary hedge as value goes up, interest stays the same, and money you are paying it off with is worth less.

Owned a money pit, sold it after 3 years for 100% gain, but hated it.

Owned a new townhouse, sold it after 2 years for a 5% gain, but loved it.

All depends on what you are looking for.  I disliked "wasting" the time fixing up the old house, mowing the lawn etc, etc, etc

Invested the money from the sale in the stock market and I'm up 90K.  Going to make sure to buy a place by mid-2010 before inflation takes off and now I can keep a substantial amount in the market and buy a place.

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#17) On January 07, 2010 at 9:42 PM, Dobbes (< 20) wrote:

Leave the couch where it is and go to African Dance night already.  Come on Alan.  What are all your African Dance buddies going to say when you couldn't make it Tuesday because of your couch?

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#18) On January 08, 2010 at 2:03 AM, awallejr (83.91) wrote:

Renting or owning a co-op I don't care how much toilet paper I flush.  Owning a house I do ;p

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#19) On January 08, 2010 at 9:21 AM, dudemonkey (40.13) wrote:

I never saw the reason for owning a home.  The math never works out unless you're REALLY good at finding undervalued properties, it takes a ridiculous amount of time and money to maintain a home, and now you're tied to one location for much longer than I'd ever want to be.  Everyone else seems to have this idea that owning a home is THE goal of american life, but it never made any sense to me.

I've yet to hear one person make a rational argument for owning your own home.  I'd rather save my money and invest it rather than throw it away on property taxes, rent, and a car (because it's too expensive to live close to work).

I'm sure some people have been able to make it really work out for them, but I don't think it's going to make sense for me to buy until I'm at my target retirement age.  Even then I'll probably skip buying.

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#20) On January 08, 2010 at 9:23 AM, dudemonkey (40.13) wrote:

I think what both you and the guy quoted in the article are really saying are:  'Boy, being older and responsible kinda bites sometimes.'

This is exactly what I'm talking about.  This is not a rational argument.  This is an emotional response elicited by having an irrational belief challenged. 

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