Is this even a question? Yes! It is to us. Buying a house is a huge decision that comes with lots of responsibilities and financial obligations. Before embarking on this journey, one have to do away with most outstanding debts like credit cards, car notes, students loans etc. If not, the experience can be disastrous. So, explore all available options before crying your way into something only to cry your way out. Why do we even call it own – when the property is not truly ours until the damn mortgage has been paid off. “ A Mortgage is a conveyance of title to property that is given to secure an obligation (as a debt) and that is defeated upon payment or performance according to stipulated terms” This is huge! We are not talking about owning a pair of shoes or a louis vuitton bag. This is a life time commitment of indebtedness to a bank or financial institution.
In Cameroon and most African countries, to own means we are not answerable to anyone, not a bank or lender and no mortgage payments is needed for as long the property is in existence. Put your money where your mouth is kind of thing! This is what totally damaged my mentality with the North America’s concept of owning. Having something to call your own is a beautiful thing, but not when it comes with an unattainable/unrealistic clause. There is this saying that, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” which is beneficial for an easy transition. But one aspect of doing like the Romans in North America that doesn’t seat still with me, is the housing market. The motivation for buying a home has always been a mix of practicality and capital gain. You have more than two members in the family, you need bigger space. You want the freedom to personalize your living space by making it reflect your personal style – can’t do that with rentage, so you direct your attention towards buying a home.
Who doesn’t want to own something? We all do! But not when it takes an arm and a leg to accomplish that goal. We were this close to closing the deal, but something unexpectedly happened that made us realize it wasn’t the right time. Our offer was rejected then and there we knew this wasn’t for us or the timing wasn’t right. Buying a house is not like driving a car or drinking alcohol where you need to reach the age of maturity. This is about the credit score, down payments, sacrifices, cutting out extra stuff like: ( kids extra curricular activities, college fund, vacation fund, special treats, life insurance and all the other things that makes one happy. When we realized all that would be taken away, we puzzled and knew right then we weren’t ready to put all our investments in one basket. Is about prioritizing our priorities.
For us, education seats at the highest level. My GCE ordinary level and probatoire gave me a Green Card to North America, same with my husband who came as a Nursing professional. The rate at which things are going, education in North America in the nearest future will be something only the rich will afford based on the frequent rise in tuition, minimal scholarships and a reduction in student aid/loan. Where would that leave our children? I don’t want them to accumulate educational debts like I did. So, we focused on securing their future because we know education is the only thing that sets a man free. And we can’t take the risk of putting their investment in housing in the hopes that when college knocks, we will take a second mortgage or sell/refinance and use the equity for that specific purpose. There is so much unpredictability in the housing market. I have come across people who sold on a loss and still had to pay the bank. Others have warned us not to embark on this journey if we want to keep bubbling.
Homeowners hardly tell the truth about the difficult and painful sacrifices they make to keep that home. All they want is to bring you on-board, so you can experience the misery or Glory for yourself. How much is enough to put as a down payment? It depends on what one is purchasing. Some say they put down $5,000, 10,000, or 20,000 – if you are buying a loft, garage, or a food truck space, this is ideal! Not when you are looking at a $450,000 to $550,000 homes, this is like praying for rain to quench the drought in the Sahara desert. Why rent when you can buy? Because buying comes with property taxes, insurance, lawn care, Adds – on like decks, patios, & additional rooms, maintenance, snow removal, savings, buyers demand…the list goes on. The pros I usually hear is to put the rent money towards your equity. “Equity is the difference between the appraised value of your home and how much of your mortgage you have left to pay off.” Buying a house does not guarantee you a frequent cash flow only if you sell or refinance the house then your money will be liquid.
Home buying in North America is like gambling. Once you start borrowing, you just have to keep borrowing to complete the unfinished – fencing, garage, basement, deck, patios, extra rooms blah blah blah. After all, you are already in debt, what is the worse that can happen? Buying a house is not a race, so conduct a thorough research before undertaking what might be the best or worst years of your life. Don’t let anyone lure you in becoming a premature homeowner. Happiness is a choice and buying a house does not necessarily make you happy – not when you have to be sleeping out to meet up with the mortgage payments.
Are we or are we not going to buy? We sure would when we win the lottery or when one is donated to us by Ellen Degeneres or Steve Harvey – five bedroom, two living room, 3 bathroom, a kitchen to die for with a cherry to complete the look. Wishful thinking! As for the time being, we are content living in our three bedroom town house, and leave all the lawn care, maintenance, snow removal and all the other headache for the management to carry. All we have to worry about is our rent and utilities. And this my friends, is the piece of mind we want, that others can take care of the aforementioned and our kids can enjoy and tap to their Gods’ given potential and become whatever they want. Something some of us were not privileged to have. Isn’t this what life is all about? Freedom!Financial freedom!!!