Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

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kaeltor
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Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by kaeltor » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:41 pm

Hello everyone.

I am single, 27 male. Currently on track to make 73K this year (salary plus side hustles.)

Employed fulltime at a F500, in a relative LCOL-MCOL area.

I am currently looking to buy as I'd like to stay in my current city, hopefully for 10 years+ (family lives here, close to home ...etc)

Networth breakdown: 30K

Investments (401K+roth+taxable all in Vanguard): 23K

EF (ally): 7k (~6 months of rent and food etc...)



Debt: None.

I've been looking at 2BR homes of around 200K-250K to purchase in the next year or so... am I out of my mind? What are some suggestions you all have? Looking for advice. I should note I already have a bachelor's and a master's, no going back to school anytime soon...
Last edited by kaeltor on Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Watty
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by Watty » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:31 pm

kaeltor wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:41 pm
Employed fulltime at a F500, in a relative LCOL-MCOL area.

......

I've been looking at 2BR homes of around 200K-250K to purchase in the next year or so... am I out of my mind?
$250K for a 2BR home is not a low or probably even medium cost of living area unless it is in a prime location or maybe an upscale condo.

One huge advantage of renting that is often overlooked is that it makes you much more flexible in your career. It was an extreme example but I know of a situation where there was an unexpected urgent opening at a corporation for a manager for a facility on a Wednesday. The person that got it reported to that facility 500 miles away on Monday. They came back a few weeks later to pack up their apartment and move. The main reason that they got that position was they could relocate easier than any of the other people that were available. That was a big promotion that rarely came up. Even if you stay in the same city you might get a great job opportunity on the other side of town which could be a terrible commute.

A big question is why do you want to buy a home?

You don't seem to have a lot of money for a downpayment and even with some low down payment loan you will still have a lot of costs when you move into a home. It would be good to save up for a few more years and then to decide if you want to buy.

One other thing, in a slow housing market it can be very hard to sell a 2 bedroom house since it is competing with 3 bedroom homes. If you get married and have kids you may also want more than 2 bedrooms. I would be cautious about buying a 2 bedroom house.

drawpoker
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by drawpoker » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:50 pm

A townhome? Am assuming you are referring to attached dwelling units, sometimes also called row houses.

Be very, very careful. Biggest mistake I ever made, within two years had the quintessential neighbors from hell buy the house next door. A nightmare that went on for years.

With a condo at least there is a board who will take action against nuisance neighbors. Assuming you buy into a good condo complex with bylaws that are written with some teeth in them.
Without that quasi-legal protection you may be out of luck as to who might move in next door. And then you will dearly wish you had bought a traditional, detached dwelling instead of a town house.

Even if you had a large yard to take care of, that burden would be worth it to preserve peace and quiet and not have undesirables living on the other side of the wall. Really.

Valuethinker
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:48 am

kaeltor wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:41 pm
Hello everyone.

I am single, 27 male. Currently on track to make 73K this year (salary plus side hustles.)

Employed fulltime at a F500, in a relative LCOL-MCOL area.

I am currently looking to buy as I'd like to stay in my current city, hopefully for 10 years+ (family lives here, close to home ...etc)

Networth breakdown: 30K

Investments (401K+roth+taxable all in Vanguard): 23K

EF (ally): 7k (~6 months of rent and food etc...)



Debt: None.

I've been looking at 2BR homes of around 200K-250K to purchase in the next year or so... am I out of my mind? What are some suggestions you all have? Looking for advice. I should note I already have a bachelor's and a master's, no going back to school anytime soon...
It does not sound like you live in a High Cost of Living city.

Renting seems a reasonable alternative.

I would wait until I could afford a small family home. Either buy a condo which is very central (I don't suggest you do this) or wait and buy a proper family home in a desirable suburb. Townhouses are a bit neither/ nor - you have all the costs of buying & reselling in a few years when it no longer suits your needs. And you've lost all flexibility etc.

Instead I would concentrate on building up my financial investment portfolio. Assuming you get 5-6% return p.a. in the long run, then that turns into quite a good pool of savings by the time you hit your 60s. Say doubling every 12 years => 8x at 63, 16x at 73.

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jharkin
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by jharkin » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:50 am

200-250 is a lot to spend on a home, especially considering part of your $73k is "side hustle" money that's not guaranteed..

To be safe I like the old rule of thumb of putting 20% down and taking out a mortgage no more than 2.5x your guaranteed base annual income. For you that's probably UNDER 200k.

Use a calculator like this to play with the numbers:
https://www.dinkytown.net/java/mortgage ... lator.html

Also, remember that once you own the home, your emergency fund needs to be bigger to cover all the fun emergencies that can come up for a homeowner - failing furnace, leaking water heater, leaking roof, tree falls on the garage, etc. Not saying these WILL happen, put any of them CAN and you have to be prepared.


A more fundamental point was raised above - you are young and early in career. A house ties you down to a geography and may make it harder to move for better opportunities. Or you decide to get married and/or have kids and suddenly the condo is too small.

Don't limit yourself. Stay flexible and focus on career and social development. Pay down any student debt you have. Use that "side hustle" time to instead take courses and certifications to advance your primary career (working for a megacorp with an advanced degree you should be able to rapidly move into the 6 figures if you focus on THAT and not side job distractions) .. you will be glad you did in 20 years.

Dottie57
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by Dottie57 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:56 am

Continue to rent. You don’t make enough for the price of home. Townhouses don’t appreciate as much as Stand alone houses. Keep saving for a larger down payment. Good luck!

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bottlecap
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by bottlecap » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:01 am

That’s too much money for me, given your income.

I’d be looking for something in the $140,000 - $175,000 range.

Admittedly, I’m more conservative than some. I loathe waking up in the middle of the night wondering how I’m going to make the next mortgage payment.

JT

Olemiss540
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by Olemiss540 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:05 am

Keep putting 15% away for retirement, and then save as hard as you can. By the time you have a 20% downpayment (40-50k) and a sufficient emergency fund, you will probably have an income to support the townhouses you are looking at.

Probably 2-3 years out. Personally, I would rent and try and stick every spare dollar into investments to get the maximum benefit from compounding.
I hold index funds because I do not overestimate my ability to pick stocks OR stock pickers.

Calico
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by Calico » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:20 am

I think a lot of what would be a good answer depends on where you live/where you are looking and what the real estate market vs renting is like in your area. All things being equal, if I were in your shoes, I would rent for now and focus on saving money.

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wabbajack
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by wabbajack » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:53 am

Happy that I don't have to be the first to tell you not to buy a house. I am OP's age, single, and have higher income. I recently bought a house and would not recommend it. Even if nothing goes wrong (furnace breaks, A/C refrigerant leak, sump pump failure, etc etc.), maintenance is a pain. How do you like mowing every weekend?

LarryAllen
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by LarryAllen » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:04 am

I would look and get a really good feel for the market. Know it backwards and forwards. Then when you see "the" house you'll know if it's a fair price or not. There is no rush. Be patient.

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PrettyCoolWorkshop
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by PrettyCoolWorkshop » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:17 am

OP, I was in a very similar situation to yours about 2 years ago at the age of 25, and I made a thread here about it. You can see it in my profile or search for the title "Advice for First Time Homebuyer." I had a tiny bit more income, a lot more in savings (for a 20% down payment no matter what) a loving girlfriend who I had 98%+ confidence would contribute economically in the future, and friends to rent the spare bedrooms to, at a time when I could get a 2.75% 15 year mortgage. I wanted to buy a 3-bed townhome for $220k.

The bogleheads were fairly adamant that it was a bad idea (although some thought it was reasonable). I bought it anyway.

For the first year of ownership, I could feel that my blood pressure was higher because I knew bad things would happen if I lost my job (even with rental income). Even though I had multiple years' worth of funds in my portfolio, I felt overleveraged. It was the first time I had ever leveraged myself in such a way. The stress was real. After my girlfriend (now wife) became employed, all the stress disappeared. Now, the rooms are rented out, the portfolio is growing, the girlfriend is a wife with a $$ job, and livin' is easy.

For your situation, I would not do what you are considering doing. The amount of money you bring in each month (assuming a 15 year mortgage) would mean that you can *barely* max out your 401k and still have money left over after paying all the bills. Interest rates are higher than when I bought, you have less saved up, and you don't have as much fallback in case things go sour. A 30 year mortgage would be more doable, but would make me more neurotic that I am just treading water (not actually building equity) if I were in your shoes.

The flipside is that inflation is starting to pick up, so prices will likely continue to grow quickly in the future. This would also build equity.

Apartments are great for single people. Especially by gathering up a bunch of roommates to save $$. If you are still looking for a life partner, maybe get a house once you find one. And maybe try living like a cheap b*****d for a few years so you can live like a king later.
Be greedy and fearful. All the time.

Thegame14
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by Thegame14 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:39 am

stay where you are, max out your 401K and bank the rest..... Wait until you are ready to get married to buy a house, your future wife may not like your place, it could be too small, and moving and selling and buying a new house sucks, and you lose the 6% selling cost, plus moving expenses, etc...

kaeltor
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by kaeltor » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:01 am

Thanks for the suggestions and advice.

I'll hold off for now. I think I'll just look for a single room apartment and keep rentiNg, see how living alone is.
It does not sound like you live in a High Cost of Living city.

Renting seems a reasonable alternative.


I would wait until I could afford a small family home. Either buy a condo which is very central (I don't suggest you do this) or wait and buy a proper family home in a desirable suburb. Townhouses are a bit neither/ nor - you have all the costs of buying & reselling in a few years when it no longer suits your needs. And you've lost all flexibility etc.

Instead I would concentrate on building up my financial investment portfolio. Assuming you get 5-6% return p.a. in the long run, then that turns into quite a good pool of savings by the time you hit your 60s. Say doubling every 12 years => 8x at 63, 16x at 73.
.

65K guaranteed salary plus ~8k in other income.

I live in the west/midwest I'll leave it at that. The area I'd like to buy in is a prime location I guess. Rent for a 1 br apartment costs me what the mortgage on the two bedroom condo/townhome would cost.
Last edited by kaeltor on Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.

barnaclebob
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:10 am

Did you do any math? Typically if the total house payment would be less than 1/3 your income you are probably fine.

bloom2708
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by bloom2708 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:18 am

The biggest challenge is you need ~$45k for 20% down and closing costs for a $200k home.

Save $45k and then consider.

You are 27 and single I presume. Many winding paths ahead. I would rent and stay flexible until "something" changes. Marriage, kids etc.

Home ownership is sold as this "American Dream" type thing. Homes are expensive. Insurance, property taxes, stuff breaking, upgrades needed. So much more than rent vs. your mortgage payment.

I'm sure a bank would give you a $220k mortgage. That doesn't mean you have to take it. Save and go slow. It will all work out.
Last edited by bloom2708 on Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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dm200
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by dm200 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:18 am

kaeltor wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:41 pm
Hello everyone.
I am single, 27 male. Currently on track to make 73K this year (salary plus side hustles.)
Employed fulltime at a F500, in a relative LCOL-MCOL area.
I am currently looking to buy as I'd like to stay in my current city, hopefully for 10 years+ (family lives here, close to home ...etc)
Networth breakdown: 30K
Investments (401K+roth+taxable all in Vanguard): 23K
EF (ally): 7k (~6 months of rent and food etc...)
Debt: None.
I've been looking at 2BR homes of around 200K-250K to purchase in the next year or so... am I out of my mind? What are some suggestions you all have? Looking for advice. I should note I already have a bachelor's and a master's, no going back to school anytime soon...
If it can fit your lifestyle, I would consider getting a 3 BR and sharing the house with 1 or 2 others.

Tideout
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by Tideout » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:45 am

I would concur with the rest of the board on this one. Whenever I hear that "Renting is throwing money down the drain".....I cringe! Also, I feel that in much of the country real estate is richly valued. However, there are social and psychological benefits to home ownership.

PNW86
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by PNW86 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:33 am

I am usually very conservative, but will throw in a contrary point of view. I had a stable job at that age making 80k, and I knew that if I needed more money, I could easily moonlight. I purchased a townhome, end unit, brand new, for 225k. I will say that I had more in investments than you, had no debt, and did have 20% cash down payment, avoiding PMI.

The other posters are right- I didn’t have a lot left at the end of the month. I was maxing out all retirement accounts, but I was a little frustrated that I was not pouring money into stock at the end of the month each month. It was a little tight for my liking. But I loved the home, and location (green space outside my windows/ adjacent to me) and also knew that being across the street from hi-tech I could rent or sell in a pinch.

5 years later, I am married, we are still in the same townhome, it is now worth 350k, and my wife and I continue to live off (the equivalent of) just my salary. We invest the equivalent of her entire salary between 401ks, HSA, and stock, as well as putting extra money on principle on top of doing a 15 year refi. We have no yard work, we pay $150 per month in HOA which covers roof, paint, exterior, and have had no issues thus far - happy I purchased when I did.

I would say make sure to have your 20% down in cash first. Without, things would have been pretty tight

chevca
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by chevca » Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:48 am

kaeltor wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:01 am
Thanks for the suggestions and advice.

I'll hold off for now. I think I'll just look for a single room apartment and keep rentiNg, see how living alone is.
I also say keep renting and save for a year or two, then revisit the buy/rent decision.

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dm200
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by dm200 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:31 pm

chevca wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:48 am
kaeltor wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:01 am
Thanks for the suggestions and advice.

I'll hold off for now. I think I'll just look for a single room apartment and keep rentiNg, see how living alone is.
I also say keep renting and save for a year or two, then revisit the buy/rent decision.
When I was in that situation, I did not buy -- but rather rented a 3 or 4 BR single family house and shared it with 2-3 others. I did not like living completely alone.

kaeltor
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by kaeltor » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:17 pm

PNW86 wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:33 am
I am usually very conservative, but will throw in a contrary point of view. I had a stable job at that age making 80k, and I knew that if I needed more money, I could easily moonlight. I purchased a townhome, end unit, brand new, for 225k. I will say that I had more in investments than you, had no debt, and did have 20% cash down payment, avoiding PMI.

The other posters are right- I didn’t have a lot left at the end of the month. I was maxing out all retirement accounts, but I was a little frustrated that I was not pouring money into stock at the end of the month each month. It was a little tight for my liking. But I loved the home, and location (green space outside my windows/ adjacent to me) and also knew that being across the street from hi-tech I could rent or sell in a pinch.

5 years later, I am married, we are still in the same townhome, it is now worth 350k, and my wife and I continue to live off (the equivalent of) just my salary. We invest the equivalent of her entire salary between 401ks, HSA, and stock, as well as putting extra money on principle on top of doing a 15 year refi. We have no yard work, we pay $150 per month in HOA which covers roof, paint, exterior, and have had no issues thus far - happy I purchased when I did.

I would say make sure to have your 20% down in cash first. Without, things would have been pretty tight
thanks for the feedback.

I also have no debt, and have a savings rate of around 65%. My income is pretty new (for about 1 1/2 years) that's why my investments are so low.

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Meg77
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by Meg77 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:35 pm

Go for it if you want to - you're not out of your mind. I bought my first home, a condo, when I was 22 and making "only" $45k a year. I had the down payment and knew my income had nowhere to go but up - plus my rent would have cost the same as my mortgage in any apartment I would have considered as an alternative. My parents were against it at first, arguing I should stay flexible in case a job opportunity somewhere else popped up. But I did it anyway, paying $145k if I recall correctly.

I ended up living there for 8 years until I got married and we bought a townhome in the same neighborhood. I rented my old condo for a few years, but it wasn't the best RE investment so finally sold it last year. It had only appreciated to $200K, but remember I bought at the height of the RE market just before the 2008 downturn. I got all the equity build up and tax breaks in between - but I also had to replace the water heater and HVAC.

Overall, financially, it probably didn't make much difference for me to own during that time versus renting and keeping my down payment in the stock market (which soared during that time). Though I probably would have upgraded my rental accommodations a few times as my income went up, spending more overall and incurring moving costs. I also learned about home maintenance and ownership, HOAs, contractors, and other similar things (read: I spend a small amount of my otherwise free time dealing with those things).
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

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dm200
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by dm200 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:30 pm

If you buy a house (say 3/4 BR) and "share" with 2 others (who pay rent) - you can (as best I understand) treat 2/3 of the house as a rental and can do things like depreciate 2/3 of it as well as treat 2/3 of the cost of repairs, furnishings, etc as a rental expense.

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wabbajack
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by wabbajack » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:01 pm

kaeltor wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:01 am
I live in the west/midwest I'll leave it at that. The area I'd like to buy in is a prime location I guess. Rent for a 1 br apartment costs me what the mortgage on the two bedroom condo/townhome would cost.
This is the absolute wrong way to think about it- unless you live monthly paycheck to paycheck, in which case you have other issues. My current mortgage payment for my 3BR house is $960. My rent for a 2BR apartment before the house was $980. Which was cheaper? The apartment, hands down.

While part of your mortgage goes towards building equity (interest is front-loaded, plug your own figures into an online calculator for details), the remainder is the equivalent of rent payments. Factor in HOA (I happen to have none, but condos will), maintenance (~1% the value of your house), and the inevitable "something breaks", and you can see why owning gets more expensive.

Oh, and we haven't touched on renovations and remodeling. When someone tells me they are redoing their kitchen/bathroom because they are planning to sell, I just have to grit my teeth and smile. That $20k kitchen remodel job that you paid for? It may add $10k to your selling price - if you're lucky.

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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:21 am

Tideout wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:45 am
I would concur with the rest of the board on this one. Whenever I hear that "Renting is throwing money down the drain".....I cringe! Also, I feel that in much of the country real estate is richly valued. However, there are social and psychological benefits to home ownership.
Home ownership as in Single Family Dwelling, yes, probably.

Townhouses? That's much less clear. Your neighbours are a mix of:

- young couples on the way up to a SFH
- renters - some of whom can be quite difficult (college freshmen, troubled families etc.)
- maybe some downsizers

The benefits of ownership and community are, in other words, potentially much smaller for a townhouse development than for SFH. Conversely you don't have quite the "close the door and head off for the weekend" that you have with a condo (which itself is problematic with Condo Fees, etc.).

(I also think the aesthetics of a lot of townhome developments are just awful -- basically a bunch of driveways and drives to those driveways. There's high density ways of urban living which can be quite attractive (e.g. carports at the back so you actually have sidewalks and a streetscape at the front) but that's not the most common way of designing and building these things, I don't think.)

I should note I live in a city where row housing ("terraced") is the norm because land is incredibly expensive and that's what the Victorians built (London, England). But we are the equivalent of the SFH, detached, of an American suburb.

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dm200
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Re: Buying townhome/home -- need opinions

Post by dm200 » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:03 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:21 am
Tideout wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:45 am
I would concur with the rest of the board on this one. Whenever I hear that "Renting is throwing money down the drain".....I cringe! Also, I feel that in much of the country real estate is richly valued. However, there are social and psychological benefits to home ownership.
Home ownership as in Single Family Dwelling, yes, probably.

Townhouses? That's much less clear. Your neighbours are a mix of:

- young couples on the way up to a SFH
- renters - some of whom can be quite difficult (college freshmen, troubled families etc.)
- maybe some downsizers

The benefits of ownership and community are, in other words, potentially much smaller for a townhouse development than for SFH. Conversely you don't have quite the "close the door and head off for the weekend" that you have with a condo (which itself is problematic with Condo Fees, etc.).

(I also think the aesthetics of a lot of townhome developments are just awful -- basically a bunch of driveways and drives to those driveways. There's high density ways of urban living which can be quite attractive (e.g. carports at the back so you actually have sidewalks and a streetscape at the front) but that's not the most common way of designing and building these things, I don't think.)

I should note I live in a city where row housing ("terraced") is the norm because land is incredibly expensive and that's what the Victorians built (London, England). But we are the equivalent of the SFH, detached, of an American suburb.
Never owned or lived in a townhouse, but know many friends and acquaintances who do. It all depends on the area and details. In this area, townhouses can be just as good financially as some single family homes.

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