Is half my monthly income really too much to pay for housing?

by feistypenguin


There are many benefits to homeownership, but home maintenance can send you into a debt spiral if you don’t have a pile of cash on-hand for emergencies (i.e. $5-10k at least). Otherwise you may need to borrow against the house, to afford a sudden repair bill.

If touring a house, look at the date it was built and consider that:

  • Sewer lines tend to start failing at 40-50 years, likely sooner if you have a tree planted nearby. $7-20k
  • A heat pump (air conditioner) tends to fail after 10-12 years, sooner if it was not maintained well. ~$5-6k
  • Roofs tend to need replacement every 20-30 years. ~$5-15k
  • Water heaters (and most major appliances) tend to fail after 8-12 years. $800-1000
  • At some point you will get water damage, and your regular homeowner’s insurance will not cover it. Water can royally fuck up a house, and cost anywhere from $500 to $20k to properly fix. All it takes is one leaky valve, fixture, or piece of siding that is hidden behind a wall.
  • DIY projects are just as likely to cost as much as hiring it out, until you learn your limits and find a cheap source of materials (home depot / lowe’s is usually NOT a cheap source of materials).
  • If the house was a foreclosure, I guarantee you it is at least 2+ years behind on maintenance, with some large item past due for replacement. People who can’t afford the mortgage, sure as hell can’t afford the routine maintenance- and a hefty repair bill is often the ‘final straw’ that makes them walk away from the house.
  • At some point, you will have to dump money into fixing the shoddy work of someone else- whether it was a bad contractor, a previous homeowner, or a DIY project gone wrong.

Naturally you won’t have to pay all of this stuff at once… but the above is to illustrate the amounts that can be involved with planned or unplanned maintenance.

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