sun 09 sep 2007 17:10:52 raamgracht
reluctant to buy housing
after all these years i'm still reluctant to buy a home. *especially* now.
the thing is, i've always thought of a "koophuis" the same way my parents did -- as the place you're gonna settle down in for the foreseeable future. you take a 30 year mortgage cuz you expect to live at least 30 years in that place.
later in life i encountered lots of people who were seduced into using housing as a way to speculate and make a profit. they were telling me "forget about 30 years. you just buy a place with the bank, spend less per month, and then flip it when you want to leave and make a good profit". stuff like that.
that mania for real-estate speculation is one of the behaviors that drove rents up to unaffordable levels in the big cities -- to the extent that people who would otherwise rather not be property owners began to feel coerced into taking the path of home ownership as the only "affordable" path. and then they needed to try to convince me too, because they had already thrown so much money after being convinced themselves. their argument being of course that when you rent, you're just throwing money away instead of building equity.
i never bought that argument. i have always thought shelter was just another urban resource, like energy and telecom -- maybe overpriced, but necessary to life. the fact that rental prices in the free sector are *too high* doesn't mean we should become property owners, it just means they need to lower the prices!
but millions of people were brainwashed into thinking that home "ownership" somehow made them safe. some people still think that. others are getting foreclosure notices.
i know i'm an apostate, but it seems to me that if you're *not* planning on staying forever, then buying is almost like renting, except that: [a] banks and brokers make more money off of you, and [b] you're enslaved to the property. for me, that risk of losing flexibility outweighs any potential economic advantage, and i consider the economic benefit to be speculative at best.
however. i would consider buying if i ever found an affordable house in a nice town where i could imagine settling down for "the duration". i'm just not there yet.