Friday, May 23, 2008

Not His Castle

Over at Salon, Steve Almond bemoans his shortcomings as a homeowner.

To say that I was naive about the ensuing realities would be fair, but inadequate.

This first shock of homeownership (that property values sometimes go down) was followed by a second: hidden costs. And by "hidden" I mean, of course, "those costs I was too lazy or negligent to consider beforehand."

He also makes a point that has occurred to me......

In a sense, our political leaders, in tandem with the retail sector, have offered the same cheap coverup. They've portrayed homeownership as a birthright and a breeze. Just plunk down your 10 percent, zip over to Home Depot, and you're home free.

But maybe it's time to admit that many Americans are like me: unfit for the privilege.

I split the difference in this regard. I own (or will when the loan is paid) a mobile home but have it on a rented lot in a nice court that has underground sprinklers and someone to mow the lawn.
It's not an appreciating asset like a home (until recently), but that wasn't my goal. I just wanted a place of my own in which to live, and I could afford to purchase and maintain a new mobile home with new appliances, etc., whereas a regular house was out of reach. I was also able to use it as a shipping container when I moved from Vermillion to Pierre, and I didn't have to find housing when I got here. It's not perfect (relative lack of space, no storm shelter) and it's not for everyone, but it's been a positive experience for me.


Dale said...

I find home ownership, the verb, tedious -- I have somewhere between zero and very little interest in the upkeep/improvement stuff. Home Depot bores me silly. I do what I have to do, and in some cases pay people to do work I could, if I tried, learn to do myself.

I like having the asset, of course, although it's pretty abstract since I have no plans to sell or refinance any time soon. I like that I'm paying a mortgage that will, probably, come back to me in some fashion some day as opposed to throwing money away as rent.

I have had plenty of moments where I've wondered if home ownership is a game that's worth the candle.

Mike said...

I've actually purchased two mobile homes,trading the first one in on the second,larger one (another advantage). I think modern mobile homes suffer from the inadequacies of their ancestors. My 16x80 is as well-built as any home, with a shingled roof, vinyl siding, 2x6 walls,etc., and it's modest compared to others in this park.

Homes are so ridiculously expensive here that barring a major financial boost I can't imagine buying one. I may consider purchasing a lot for my mobile home, but even that is expensive.