On home ownership

A friend posted a link to a posting on Forbes titled 11 Reasons Why I Never Want To Own A House Again. I found the points made quite ridiculous. I started writing a brief comment, but before long it turned into a point-by-point rebuttal. Before continuing, some disclaimers: I am not an expert and I am not offering professional financial advice. I’m only going to be considering the situation in the USA.


We filed our taxes today. We’ve been hit with a sudden tax bill to the tune of over $20,000. It turns out that after a certain number of years, property you aren’t living in automatically gets taxed on the assumption that it’s a profitable side business, rather than your only piece of real estate. Worse, standard practice in the US is to pay taxes on real estate on the basis that it gradually loses its value (yeah, right), and then pay the difference when you sell it.

In which disaster is averted

Yesterday was house inspection time. Although it’s a brand-new house, we opted to pay to have an experienced independent inspector spend the afternoon looking at it with us. The short summary: If you ever buy a house, even a new house, you must get it inspected. If you’re buying a house in Austin TX, I would highly recommend contacting Brent Hays. The construction has some major structural defects. For instance, someone decided it would be a good idea to build the decks with no gaps between the boards and the boards sandwiched into load-bearing columns.

Massachusetts property crisis

Crystal posts a link to a Boston Globe story about property prices in Massachusetts. Houses here cost so much because there are too few of them for all the people who have been drawn to Boston because it’s such a great place for great minds to do great things. But that reputation, which has kept Boston competitive all these years, is beginning to buckle under the weight of absurd home prices.

Flat sold

As suspected, the buyers of my UK flat were stalling so they wouldn’t have to pay an extra month of mortgage payments. As soon as September rolled around they suddenly decided they wanted to exchange documents as soon as possible, with completion set for the 13th. In related news, UK mortgage lenders have just announced that property prices just dropped for the first time in years: Martin Ellis, chief economist at Halifax, said: “This looks like the start of a genuine downturn.