In today’s world, do you rent or buy a home? The numbers indicate that, for younger generations, the trend is shifting markedly towards the former.
Many factors deserve careful consideration when you decide on your living arrangements. Yet the overriding concern here is usually the state of one’s personal finances. The pandemic has generally proven detrimental to financial security.
However, costs can be a lot more manageable if you know what to expect. And this is where the right education can really change perceptions and attitudes towards homeownership.
The hidden risks of ownership
The cost of buying a home is a large enough hurdle to deter many young people from seriously engaging in the process. Degree inflation and graduate underemployment are devaluing education, forcing younger people into low-paying jobs. When you’re struggling to pay all that student debt, you can ill-afford mortgage payments slicing into what’s left.
But the younger generations are nothing if not smart and savvy, particularly with technology. Having grown up digital natives, they’re in the habit of looking up detailed information and reviews about any prospective purchase. And that means they readily find out about the hidden risks and costs of owning a home.
When you buy a home, you don’t just pay the upfront cost. There are monthly expenses that add up over time. Some of these are to be expected, like insurance and property taxes. But there are others, like repair and maintenance, that you can’t really grasp without firsthand experience.
And unforeseen effects result from even small material decisions. The added heat of heavy masonry, for instance, makes you spend more energy to cool a home in a warm climate, especially as our world heats up. It’ll have you wishing you installed a natural stone veneer instead.
Doing this research tends to build an unflattering picture of homeownership for young people. It’s not just the financial constraints but imagining the hassle and stress of owning property that can turn them off. It’s easy to understand why they’d rather pay rent, leave those tasks to the landlord, and spend their discretionary money on experiences like travel or food.
Revisiting life aspirations
The problem is that such negative attitudes towards owning a home can stick. People can resist settling down even when mobility, one of the biggest advantages of renting, no longer suits them. Many of us will eventually come close enough to the goal of financial stability and job security. When that happens, do you really want to keep relocating in the hunt for bigger and better opportunities?
At some point, you’ll find that there are more incentives to staying put. And that shifts the balance towards buying a place of your own instead of paying rent every month.
When you settle down, you’re building relationships with a community. That can be your neighbors, your colleagues who live nearby, fellow enthusiasts who share a hobby or sport, or owners and employees of local businesses and establishments you frequently patronize.
Living in your home means laying down roots. If you have a family or plans to start one, this is where kids will spend their childhood years, go to school, make friends and memories. Thinking even further, you may intend to retire and age in place, which means cultivating social support.
When the turning point comes, will you be prepared for homeownership? Or will you cling to the ease of rental living, even when it no longer makes financial sense?
The case for HEC
Homebuyer’s education and counseling (HEC) is an opportunity for everyone to change those attitudes while simultaneously being better-equipped to handle homeownership.
When you enter an HEC program, you’ll realize just how little the average person knows about buying and owning a home. After all, it makes no sense to buy a car without first learning how to drive and conduct basic maintenance.
Yet for some reason, prospective owners routinely enter the buying process without checking their options, not just across property listings themselves but among brokers and lenders. They may be confused by financial terms such as contract interest versus annual interest rates. They may not even have a long-term payment plan.
There’s strong evidence that HEC can improve outcomes among participants. It helps them avoid the pitfalls of buying and owning a home, ranging from unexpected issues and repairs to delinquency and even foreclosure rescue scams. But the research indicates that you have to start early to maximize these benefits.
For younger generations, now is the best time to start receiving in-depth, professional education on homeownership. One day, they’ll realize that renting isn’t the best option anymore, and when that time comes, they’ll be ready for the alternative.