We are not homeowners!!!! We are not homeowners!!!! We may never be homeowners again! And I am thrilled about it.
Yep, we sold our house on Tuesday (ie, we closed) after a mere 367 days on Zillow (or thereabouts). We sold it for significantly less than we purchased it for 6 years ago and had to write a sizable check (that we had been saving for, knowing our day of reckoning had come) to seal the transaction. But we did it!
Will our taxes go up next year? Yes. Yes they will.
However, we will NOT be paying any:
- mortgage interest
- mortgage payments
- property taxes
- homeowners, wind, or flood insurance (the wind insurance costs were staggering in Miami Beach – something like $7K/yr for a plan with a $50K deductible!!)
- (yes, we pay renters insurance instead but that’s not a large cost)
- potential ‘assessment’ costs
And OMGGGGG. The feeling of not having any stock in the South FL real state market (ahem climate change) is amazing. So amazing that we were at peace with writing that check to sell.
(At the bank, the woman helping me wire the funds was very confused that I was wiring $ to sell and not buy. Yes, that’s going to happen sometimes!!).
If I am wrong and housing prices soar in the next decade — I’m completely okay with that. Because not taking that gamble anymore is worth it.
Lessons I learned from taking a loss on a house (TWICE – this also happened to us in 2009 on a smaller scale)
- Don’t be too proud to consider the first offer. We were insulted at our first offer which was . . . approximately 40K higher than what we sold the house for, 10 months later. Double oops.
- Don’t buy unless you KNOW you want to be in that house (and that location) for 10+ years.
- Homes cost way more to maintain than most people think. Do not forget: exterminator costs. Lawn maintenance (time or money). HVAC systems (we paid to fully replace ours in 2017 – agh). Appliances. There is so much that can go wrong in a house.
- Don’t assume that you know what it’s like to live somewhere just because you know what it’s like to visit
- Don’t be afraid to calculate the costs (and mental stress) of renting vs buying. YOU DON’T HAVE TO OWN A HOME TO BE A GROWN UP (or to grow your net worth). This 2014 NYTimes article with calculator is getting older, but it’s fascinating.
With renting, you don’t really get to decorate your house and it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of $ or time upgrading. Which for me — is an enormous positive! In fact, I greatly appreciate having the excuse to spend basically zero time decorating/improving our home. I was born without the gene that causes one to want to spend time thinking about countertops and window treatments. I want clean countertops, but it doesn’t bother me if they are Formica.
When you rent, you also get to call someone else and have them fix it ON THIER DIME when something major breaks. Is it always seamless? Absolutely not. But in our experience, it’s been pretty decent. Our rental turned out to have termites (in S Florida, everyone has termites at some point or another) and they tented it and covered hotel costs. If a hurricane comes and sweeps our roof off . . well, it’s not actually our roof. There is much less unexpected to go wrong.
And for me, that peace of mind and predictability is worth rental costs & a bigger tax bill. I don’t see us ever buying again unless we find ourselves in a location where a) we know we want to live forever and b) we feel confident about the stability of the market given environmental concerns. (I DO have a fetishy desire for a log cabin in Vermont sort of as a “just in case” investment, but I doubt Josh will ever be on board with that plan!).
The thing that Josh and I have been surprised about is how few people seem to feel the way we do. It seems like there is pride in home ownership and maybe even some shame or at least some lack of status in renting. (And somehow this does not seem true for cars – which we do own outright, but so many people lease!).
Anyway, whatever. We are thrilled to be renters. Here’s to a debt-free 2020!!