Community Magazine

A Few More Thoughts on House Buying

By Eemusings @eemusings

I have a cousin who’s only a year older than me, but has always been light years ahead of me in every other aspect. Nationally ranked swimmer. Newly minted doctor. And now, a homeowner. If he wasn’t a really nice guy, I would really resent him for showing me up.

Seeing as I’m getting married in May, the adults of the family invariably turn to talk of property. Yes, I’m still renting, and plan to do so for quite a while yet.

my house my castle, some more thoughts on home buying

Unlike in many places in the US, it’s basically never cheaper to buy than rent here (maybe in the smaller towns?). To buy a comparable place to our current dwelling would be about double our rent – and our rent is NOT cheap, either. We wouldn’t, however, be buying a comparable place, but a much cheaper one – an entry-level house in the $300,000s, hopefully, which would only be another $100-200 a week.

As I was telling my other cousin, it’s not so much the mortgage payments that are hard to swing (according to my bank’s home loan calculators) but that massive hurdle of the down payment.  I always wanted to put down 20 percent. That’s the responsible thing to do. But to be honest, it’s quite likely that we’ll only end up putting 10 or 15 percent down (“That’s what everyone does!” Yeah, because prices start at about 4x household income and go up from there…).

Say we’re in a position to buy in 2016. We should both be able to get the full Kiwisaver first home buyer subsidy ($10,000 altogether, assuming the government doesn’t scrap that part of the scheme)

Who knows where prices will be by then, though? We had a slight dip in prices during the recession, but they quickly shot right back up to new heights. I don’t see the housing shortage ending anytime soon (not helped by lack of council/government planning and the traditional quarter-acre dream, which yes, I want a piece of too). And unlike in the US, our interest rates can only ever be fixed for a maximum of five years. Right now they’re in the 5-6 percent range (which is low for us, but not compared to the 3-4 percent outlined in this mortgage rates guide in the US) but lots of homeowners felt the pain a few years ago when rates climbed into the 8 percent.

 Well Heeled, though, is making it a mission to buy a house in 2016. I will live vicariously through her!

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