Seven plus years of my life were spent selling real estate in one form or another. You know, selling the “American Dream”. Helping people navigate the often troubled waters of a real estate transaction.
I get the benefits of owning a home, believe me. You know, things like: (hopefully) building equity, painting your walls however you like (as long as we’re not talking your exterior walls if you live in a home owners association), don’t pay your landlord’s mortgage, potential tax advantages, if you own it they will come, blah blah etc etc.
This bugs me
On a remarkably consistent basis, I see real estate professionals pose questions like this:
What stops people from becoming home owners?
And the real estatey types will chime in with answers like:
- Bad credit
- Lack of funds for a down payment
- Not understanding the benefits of home ownership
- Job insecurity
- Poor financial planning
- Relationship insecurity
- Trying to time the market
- No savings
- They can’t afford it
And more–virtually all are reasons with negative connotations. The Internet is chocked full of this sort of drivel:
People who have integrity and a sense of direction, buy their own homes and take pride in ownership. Not Renters. Renters use drugs, drink too much and are often outright alcoholics, at least half their friends are worthless, hanger-on assholes…
Frequently people say things like, “Renters don’t pay property taxes,” and “renters destroy home values because they don’t care and trash their house.”
What utter nonsense.
If you think a landlord doesn’t incorporate property (and school, and municipal) taxes into the rent payment, then I’d like to be your tenant.
As a real estate agent and broker, I saw plenty of trashed out properties that were occupied by people with a mortgage. Some disgustingly so.
To pigeonhole renters in mass as people that don’t care about the homes they live in is absurd.
Yet the negatives against renters pile up, sometimes perpetuated by real estate professionals (and landlords, and others).
Occasionally however someone with a clue will say, “Ownership may not be for everyone.”
DING DING DING, WE HAVE A WINNER!
I am a renter
I am a renter, not because I have bad credit. 25+ years ago my estranged and soon-to-be ex-wife torpedoed my credit by forging my name to credit apps and running up $65K in debt. That’ll wreck your credit for years, and make you appreciate the things good credit can provide.
It’s not that I can’t afford a home, or that I don’t “believe in home ownership.” I’ve owned a few homes in the past, and enjoyed the experience, most of the time. I have the means to purchase a home.
I’m a renter because, for me, it makes more sense than owning.
I moved to Seattle two years ago knowing nothing about the city. So I heeded the advice I used to give many people when selling real estate in Phoenix was my livelihood — rent a place until you figure out where you want to settle down with a 15 – 30 year mortgage.
Guess what I’ve discovered about renting over the past 2+ years?
It has its advantages over home ownership.
I rent an apartment in a downtown Seattle high-rise. Several months ago, a light bulb burned out in a recessed ceiling fixture. Having no place, or reason, to store a ladder in a 700 square foot apartment, I stopped by the manager’s office to see if I could borrow a ladder to change the bulb.
“Nope. I’ll send the maintenance guy up there to change it.”
“Cool, I’ll go buy a bulb.”
“Nope, we’ve got that covered.”
Awhile back, my bathroom sink clogged as a result of the never-ending process of my hair falling out. Did I have to go get a bottle of Drano, or take apart a stinky and gross p-trap under the sink to clean out the clog?
Negative. Enter my trusty maintenance guy. I go to work that morning with a clogged sink and come home at the end of the day with a sink draining so fast I was concerned I might get sucked into it.
Ask me how much I worry about what happens if the dishwasher, fridge, or washer and dryer go belly up.
None, zip, zero, nada.
Do I trash my apartment? While my lovely bride may read this nodding her head up and down, I certainly don’t punch holes in the walls, destroy the appliances, or let asshole friends crash on the couch. Why would I? I have to live here.
I write a check for rent every month, just as (most) home owners write some lender a check every month. Does whatever name is on the “Pay to the order of” line of the check define who a person is?
Renters aren’t inherently evil. Renting your home doesn’t make you a lesser person.
Renters are people too.
Photo credit: turkeychik on Flickr. CC Licensed.