dcsimg
We research, you save.
Got Questions On Rates? (855) 610-2972

What's happening with home prices in the 100 largest metropolitan areas? See HSH's updated "Home Price Recovery Index" to find out!

4 myths and realities of homeownership

After living in an apartment my entire life--until buying my first home at age 25--I believed a lot of myths about what homeownership would ultimately be like.

But I was not the first person to believe certain misconceptions about homeownership, and I certainly will not be the last.

Here are four homeownership myths that many renters and move-up buyers believe--as well as the homeownership realities they need to know.

Myth #1: Owning a house will finally get me away from loud, nutty neighbors.

Reality: Not always.

After moving into my first home--a charming Victorian located in Philadelphia--I quickly discovered that homeowners who are next-door neighbors can be just as boisterous and irritating as the most obnoxious apartment-dwelling neighbor.

In fact, my next-door neighbor in Philadelphia was a woman we called "Janet from another planet."

As I explained in my first book Your First Home: The Smart Way to Get it and Keep It, Janet did the craziest things.

She would come to our house uninvited and pester friends who visited our home. For some inexplicable reason, she routinely stole water from our backyard water hoses in the middle of the night. Janet even once used a lawn mower to plow down our budding tomato plants because they "looked like weeds."

So beware. You can buy mortgage insurance, but too bad there is no insurance to protect you from the risk of having annoying neighbors.

Myth #2: I'll get a lot more privacy with a home.

Reality: Your level of privacy depends on many factors.

Your home's location, the type of residence you buy, the size of your lot, whether or not you have a backyard, and the general proximity of your home to your neighbors all weigh heavily on the degree of privacy you will have in a house.

For instance, if you buy a single-family home, you can generally expect more privacy than if you lived in an apartment building with dozens of renters. But what if you buy a condominium or townhome? The level of privacy you will feel will not be much different than what you would experience living in an apartment complex.

Another huge factor: Is there a fence around your home or mature trees that provide a privacy hedge? If not, your neighbors may be able to see everything that goes on in your yard--and vice versa.

Myth #3: A bigger home will solve all our space problems.

Reality: A larger home can also get cramped for a variety of reasons.

Back in 2000, James and LaTrice Felton bought a spacious five-bedroom, three-story home with a full basement in East Orange, N.J. Their oldest daughter, Madison, was a toddler and their younger daughter, Parker, was a newborn.

But later twins came along--a boy, James IV, and a girl, Lexington. Like all parents, the Feltons now have a steady stream of toys, clothing and school supplies that threaten to take over the house.

"We have a beautiful home, but the more kids you have, the more stuff you have," says LaTrice Felton.

Young kids are not the only ones taking up household space.

These days more than ever, college graduates are returning home, living with mom and dad until finding a job. Even working adults are increasingly living with their parents to save money. There were 7.1 million intergenerational households in America in 2010, according to Census Bureau data.

Myth #4: My newly built home will be absolutely perfect.

Reality: Even newly constructed homes have minor (or major) flaws and nuisance problems that emerge.

When Jamesha Norwood tried buying her first home in Indianapolis in 2008, she found herself frustrated because she kept getting outbid by other buyers. So by 2009, Norwood decided to build her dream home. It was a process she relished--so much that it led Norwood to get her real estate and broker's licenses.

"Picking out everything from my appliances to carpet and designing the whole house was the best process ever," says Norwood, who now works part-time as a Realtor with RE/MAX.

Although she was extremely pleased with her home, there were a few small hiccups in the design and construction. "Some things weren't to my specifications, so I pointed them out to the builder and they immediately fixed those items," Norwood says. "I also had the normal nail pops in the house after a year. Other than that, I didn't really have any issues."

The lesson: No home, including a brand new one, is 100 percent perfect.

So as you compare mortgage rates and ask "how much house can I afford," also ask yourself if you have a realistic view of what homeownership will really be like.

Related articles :

More help from HSH.com

  • 10 metros where a home costs about $1,000/month

    HSH.com identifies 10 metro areas where you can afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home for only around $1,000 per month.
  • Home price recovery index: Which metros have improved the most, least?

    Have home prices in your area fully recovered from the declines suffered during the Great Recession, or are they still struggling to make it back to the peaks they reached before the crisis?
  • How do I know refinancing will be affordable?

    After to determine the goal of your refinance, deciding whether that goal makes sense (or not), given your personal situation, depends on a combination of factors.
  • The salary you must earn to buy a home in 27 metros

    Here’s how much salary you would need to earn in order to afford the median-priced home in your city.
  • VA Funding Fee: 5 facts you need to know

    One slight drawback of securing a VA loan is that borrowers often have to pay a fee, known as the “VA Funding Fee.” Here are five facts you need to know about the VA Funding Fee and how it works.