Between May 26 and June 5, 2023, GOBankingRates surveyed 1,004 Americans to learn about their future plans for home ownership. When asked when they planned to buy their next home, 9% of overall respondents said they never want to buy a home. A slightly larger percentage — 19% of Americans surveyed — said they would not buy a home when asked how much they planned to spend on their next house.
Buying a home is a complex decision. In an August 2023 episode of The Ramsey Show, money expert Dave Ramsey advised a fan who was uncertain whether he should buy a home. Ramsey’s advice touched on practical problems associated with long-term renting, as well as thinking beyond the here and now and considering positive unknowns associated with home ownership.
Even if you don’t want a house right now, this asset is often the best possible investment for your future. However, you do need to make sure you’re ready for it. GOBankingRates spoke to two real estate professionals and a financial planner on key considerations to factor in if you’re on the fence about home ownership.
Ask Yourself: What Does Your Current Financial Picture Look Like?
Before you start bookmarking listings or putting in offers, it’s important to consider your current finances and financial goals.
Jennifer Okhovat, real estate agent at Compass, said to analyze personal objectives of what needs to be achieved first financially. You may find it’s critical to pay off debt first or save money for other priorities, like an emergency fund to take care of unexpected expenses and repairs you may experience as a property owner.
Personal finance expert Rachel Cruze also agrees it’s important to prioritize reaching the financial goals of getting out of debt and having an emergency fund before buying a home. In an episode of The Ramsey Show, Cruze said a few key signs you’re ready to buy a house include being completely debt-free and keeping three to six months’ worth of expenses saved in an emergency fund.
What Does Owning a Home Mean to You Personally?
Autumn Lax, CFP and lead financial planner at Drucker Wealth, said many of her clients are mid-career professionals who feel pressure from family and friends to buy a house. Making the decision to buy a home, Lax said, requires careful thought considering a place to live, your needs and the needs of your family and what homeownership means to you personally.
If you decide to buy a home, you will be responsible for every aspect of home ownership and need to commit to maintenance and upkeep costs. If owning a house and committing to the responsibility that comes with it isn’t for you, Lax said this is okay.
“We’re taught to think home ownership is something we must do or need to do to prove we’ve made it financially,” said Lax. “I think the decision needs to be not what you should do, but what fits your lifestyle.”
If You Don’t Want To Buy a House, Can You Build Wealth Other Ways?
One of the biggest reasons why many people buy homes is to start building equity and wealth in the property. However, a house is not the only vehicle with which one can build wealth. Ritika Asrani, founder and head broker at St Maarten Real Estate, pointed out home ownership can tie up a substantial portion of your wealth in a single asset.
Rather than allocate all of your financial resources to a house, Asrani recommends considering diversified investments. Explore buying stocks, bonds or real estate investment trusts (REITs). Asrani said these investments may offer competitive returns and liquidity, allowing you to seize other opportunities as they arise.
You also don’t need to own a home to invest in real estate. Look into real estate crowdfunding as an alternative avenue. With crowdfunding, Asrani said you can invest in specific properties or real estate projects without the responsibilities of owning and managing a physical property.
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