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Former Long-time renter is $18,000 ahead after buying home 5 years ago
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She’s a single woman in Manteca in her 50s.

Five years ago she was paying $820 a month rent.

Naysayers told her not to buy a home. She’d never come out ahead.

She proved them wrong. By buying within her means, she ended up two years ago with a monthly mortgage payment including property taxes and insurance of $790 a month.

Neither monthly cost includes utilities.

The last time she owned a home was in 1984.

Wall Street types in 2008 that were interested in investment returns were pooh-poohing home ownership viewing it as smart as putting your money into buggy whips. They argued people should keep their money “available” for investing in stocks and such.

She saw house ownership from an entirely different angle.

She understood two things: She had to live somewhere and when she retired it made sense to be in a position at one point that your housing was free and clear since you have reduced income.

The rent for the home she once lived in now fetches $1,100 a month.

In the five years she has been buying her own home she has saved just over $6,000 based on rent she was paying at the time and subsequent increases imposed by the landlord.

But that is only part of the story. Her ability to itemize and deduct mortgage interest has taken her net savings well past $11,000. That doesn’t include the first-time buyers’ credit the federal government handed out for awhile that brought her net bottom line out $18,000 in her favor over five years.

Even without the now expired tax credit, she is still ahead plus she doesn’t have to worry about rent increases. At the same time she admits she is putting, more money into her home. And while that is true, owning her own home has changed her spending patterns. In other words, improving her home to fit her personality and lifestyle has become a form of entertainment.

She also has a place she can call her own that she can make improvements to as she pleases.

She views homeownership as one should: It is a shelter and not an investment like the stock market. It also is the foundation of long range financial planning not as a Wall Street type would think but as someone who understands controlling housing costs is a key to controlling retirement costs.

Even without the $7,500 one-time federal first-time buyers’ tax credit she is financially better off today owning than renting.  And even though equity gains have started, if she didn’t gain a penny in value she no longer has to worry about a landlord jacking up rents to match market demands.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail