Sunday, September 18, 2005
my mathematical mind
Periodically we are told to buy property. We’re supposed to do this to build equity, which is a capitalist’s euphemistic way of saying that buying a house qualifies us to participate more fully in mainstream American life. We are taught to feel bad about giving money to a landlord; this is money, we are told, that we are flushing down the drain. Instead, by purchasing property and paying into a mortgage, we are putting the money to work for us.
I admit I’ve never understood the argument. Well, I understand it, intellectually; the money we give to our landlord is unrecoverable. But so is the money we pay for food. When we go to the grocery store, I don’t feel like we are flushing dollars down the drain: I feel like we are paying to purchase something that satisfies immediate needs, something we want right now. Often it is a piece of fish or fruit. We take it home, we eat it, and it’s gone. We don’t beat ourselves up about not planting our own replenishable garden with the seeds. Nobody tries to convince us that it is a moral failing of ours that we aren’t subsistence farmers.
When we write a check to our landlord each month, we’re paying to satisfy similar desires. We can’t afford to purchase the kind of property we want in Downtown Jersey City, but we still want to be here: we like being near the PATH train and the turnpike extension, restaurants we dig, and neighborhoods that are interesting to look at and to walk around. For many years, we didn't have any of that. Now that we do, it's hard to imagine retreating to where we once were, even if we were promised the security of home ownership.
If the house we now live in were to go condo, and we suddenly went berserk and decided we’d buy it, our monthly rent bill would morph into a multi-headed monster: mortgage payments, insurance payments, maintenance fees and especially property taxes. Call me a Jersey libertarian if you must, but I feel better about handing money directly to a person I know than I do about sending a check for the same amount to the municipal government. I understand that the screwed-up
I’m here all day. I wake up in the morning and go straight to the computer. Sometimes I don’t stop writing until night has fallen and it’s time to head to
Housing prices in
It seems to me to be a psychologically unhealthy way to think about home. A residence isn’t a patriot bond, or a Sammy Sosa rookie card. It’s an investment, sure, but a second-order one: first, it's a place where we have to exist. I’m not a broker with a
I don't know how interested you are in the northern 'burbs, especially Bergen County, but apparently there's been A LOT of backlash regarding the recent property appraisals for property taxes. I was just curious if you'd heard anything about it.
One thing in your favor. If Healy is blowing smoke about the possibilities of a revaluation in the near future you are going to be looking very, very wise.
The payments you make in terms of mortgage interest and property taxes are tax deductable. The money you pay in rent is (usually) not so. Property appreciation (assuming that happens - it has historically but nothing is guaranteed) is an asset you can borrow against for other purposes.
That's why you are told to buy property. Probably you know most or all of this. What's rarely said is the alternative: You wake up at 60 and have no assets.
This is one to watch.
what is a time share