Editor's Note: The following blog post was written by James Altucher, managing director of Formula Capital, and originally published on his website: The Altucher Confidential.
Prior to the existing home sales report this morning, Altucher sat down with Aaron and Henry to discuss his financial and personal reasons for not owning a home.
Tell us what you think!
Many people have said to me in the past month, "I'm going to buy a home." Or, "What do you think of the idea of me buying a home?" I like the second batch of people. They are my friends and it seems like they are sincerely asking for my advice. And I'm going to give it to them. Whether they meant it or not.
I have some stories about owning a home. One of them is here: "What It Feels Like to be Rich" where I describe my complete path into utter depravity and insanity. The other one is still too personal. Its filled with about as much pain as I can fit onto a page. Oh, I have a third one also from when I was growing up. But I don't want to upset anyone in my family so I'll leave it out. Oh, I have a fourth story that I just forgot about until this very second. But enough about me. Lets get right to it.
A) Cash Gone. You have to write a big fat check for a downpayment. "But its an investment," you might say to me. Historically this isn't true. Housing returned 0.4% per year from from 1890 to 2004. And that's just housing prices. It forgets all the other stuff I'm going to mention below. Suffice to say, when you write that check, you're never going to see that money again. Because even when you sell the house later you're just going to take that money and put it into another downpayment. So if you buy a $400,000 home, just say goodbye to $100,000 that you worked hard for. You can put a little sign on the front lawn: "$100,000 R.I.P."
B) Closing costs. I forget what they were the last two times I bought a house. But it was about another 2-3% out the window. Lawyers, title insurance, moving costs, antidepressant medicine. It adds up. 2-3%.
C) Maintenance. No matter what, you're going to fix things. Lots of things. In the lifespan of your house, everything is going to break. Thrice. Get down on your hands and knees and fix it! And then open up your checkbook again. Spend some more money. I rent. My dishwasher doesn't work. I call the landlord and he fixes it. Or I buy a new one and deduct it from my rent. And some guy from Sears comes and installs it. I do nothing. The Sears repairman and my landlord work for me.
D) Taxes. There's this myth that you can deduct mortgage payment interest from your taxes. Whatever. That's a microscopic dot on your tax returns. Whats worse is the taxes you pay. So your kids can get a great education. Whatever.
E) You're trapped. Lets spell out very clearly why the myth of homeownership became religion in the United States. Its because corporations didn't want their employees to have many job choices. So they encouraged them to own homes. So they can't move away and get new jobs. Job salaries is a function of supply and demand. If you can't move, then your supply of jobs is low. You can't argue the reverse, since new adults are always competing with you.
F) Ugly. Saying "my house is an investment" forgets the fact that a house has all the qualities of the ugliest type of investment:
Illiquidity. You can't cash out whenever you want.
High leverage. You have to borrow a lot of money in most cases.
No diversification. For most people, a house is by far the largest part of their portfolio and greatly exceeds the 10% of net worth that any other investment should be.
For more on Altucher's personal reasons not to own a home, go here.
This post was published with author's permission.