What salary do I need to buy a house? I struggled with that question in my 20s and it probably kept me renting a year or so longer than I really needed to be. Then again, considering the housing crisis of 2007-2008, renting a year or so longer was a small price to pay to avoid potentially making the biggest financial mistake of my life.
One of the reasons for that financial crisis was not enough people asking that question. A second reason was banks being dishonest about the answer. For the record, I think buying a house is a good idea and it’s worth it. But you have to be sane about it to keep from getting into trouble.
As a landlord, I’ve dealt with some difficult tenants, and I’ve noticed they all tend to use very similar tactics. Setting boundaries is a necessity to keep things under control, and in the end keep all of your tenants happy while keeping yourself sane.
So my buddy, we’ll call him Bob, runs Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for a big company. DLP is software that limits what you can do with sensitive information, in order to block it from going out of the company. The NSA wasn’t using DLP back when Ed Snowden was working for them; they probably are now.
Sometimes DLP blocks people from sending their own personal information. Doing so is their right–it’s their information–but from a security point of view, I’m really glad DLP kept them from e-mailing their entire life around in plaintext.
I see the advice all the time not to buy a house if you can’t afford it, but rarely do I see a good explanation of what that means.
It’s really easy. Let me explain it, as someone who paid off a 30-year mortgage in five years and now co-manages rental property and has to determine if someone can afford to rent from us or will be over their head. And no, just because I’m a landlord doesn’t mean I think everyone should rent. There are definitely times when buying makes sense. Read more
The bank vice president apologized for calling the police on me.
That’s neither the beginning nor the end of the story, but it seems to me that police involvement of any kind is a sign that your real estate deal isn’t going as well as it could.
It all began with a Citibank loan officer named Aaron who promised me a smooth closing. In my view, being questioned by a uniformed police officer has no place in a smooth closing. And that wasn’t even the worst part of it, which troubles me. Read more
I’ve written about how not having debt gives you power, though I can’t find the particular post at the moment. But I remember when I got my first mortgage. I went to a party, and my boss was there, along with my five other bosses, and the big boss got this look in his eye when I said I’d bought a house. That look in his eye said one thing: I own you, and I can do whatever I want to you.
And he did. From that day forward, all of the assignments nobody else wanted fell on me. Anything that was destined to fail went to me. And the cycle followed me from job to job, then stopped, like turning out a light, the day after my wife and I paid off our mortgage. It was the closest thing to magic I’ve ever seen. One day, I was the guy who got assignments at 3 PM on a Friday that were going to take me 8 hours to get done–and they had to be done by 8 AM on Monday, and one day, I wasn’t that guy anymore.
I tested it again this month. I turned down a job that offered me a $7,000 pay cut. Nothing unusual about that, right? Not in this case. In this case, rejecting that pay cut meant I didn’t have a job anymore. Read more
Declining incomes have more people paying a higher percentage of their income in rent than in the past. I blame the recession. And what caused the recession? People getting in over their heads, buying more house than they can afford. I blame the big banks for that, because I personally experienced it. If I’d bought the kind of house loan officers were telling me to buy in 2002, I’d have been foreclosed on, too.
Here’s a very easy way to figure out whether you can afford a particular place. Read more
Today, the sermon at church was based mostly on Nehemiah 5. Nehemiah 5 talks about the ruinous financial situation of the children of Israel at the time the book was written. Check out Nehemiah 5:4-5.
“We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”
In other words, in order to pay their bills, some had resorted to selling their children into slavery. Sadly, some Americans find themselves in that situation today. Or close to it. At least it’s uncommon enough that we’re offended when we hear about it. Read more