Poll: Renters want to buy a home for the wrong reasons


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Jealousy not only eats away at your soul, but it can also devour all your money. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the latest poll from LendingTree. To be clear, LendingTree’s poll, released in August 2021, was about homeownership. The online lending marketplace quizzed more than 2,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 75. My conclusions, however, aren’t financial. As usual, they’re psychological – because money drives people crazy.

Why renters want to buy

You don’t need a poll to know the housing market is red-hot these days. Everyone is keenly aware of it, including renters who long for a place to call their own. There are solid financial reasons to crave homeownership, none better than the simple fact that homes usually appreciate in value. Unlike a new car that loses half its value the moment you drive it off the lot, homes can easily double in value depending on where you live.


Yet that’s not why renters want to buy. Most told LendingTree they simply want to “customize their home to their liking” instead of having “to abide by a landlord’s rules.”


“This is a major selling point,” LendingTree concluded. “Flexibility to do what they want with the space is the most popular reason for wanting to own a home.” More than 6 in 10 respondents – 63%, to be exact – cited this as the primary reason they wanted a home.

The right decision for the wrong reason

The problem with buying a home for purely emotional reasons – and at 50%, “pride of homeownership” was also a top response – is that you’ll convince yourself to buy a home you can’t afford.


It also means you’re often disappointed with the idea of buying a “starter home.” It might be smaller than you want, with fewer opportunities to customize it as you want. Its curb appeal isn’t as impressive, and the photos you post on Facebook won’t make you proud and your friends jealous.


LendingTree didn’t pose these two questions, but I wonder what the honest answers would be: “How badly do you want to buy a home to impress your friends? And how jealous are you of those who already have nice homes?”


This would explain the headline LendingTree put atop its survey, which I have yet to even mention: “48% of Renters Worry They’ll Never Be Able to Buy; Down Payments Biggest Barrier.” Those renters’ worries will come true if they don’t start looking at homeownership like they do grocery shopping and oil changes.

How to afford a home: Clip coupons

As a CPA and financial counselor for three decades, I’ve met many people who save hundreds of dollars a year – and sometimes that much in a single month – by studiously clipping coupons for everything from food to car maintenance. Yet when it comes time to buy the most expensive item in their lives, they don’t exert the same thrifty effort.


For example, LendingTree says more than half of aspiring homeowners “say they can’t afford a down payment.” The three best tactics for overcoming that hurdle aren’t particularly attractive to many people:

  1. Look at smaller homes. As I mentioned earlier, Americans tend to buy more home than they need. According to the U.S. Census, the average size of a new home in 2020 was three bedrooms and 2,333 square feet. Since the average apartment size is 882 square feet, it’s fair to wonder if renters could buy a smaller home first, then trade up later. A smaller home often means a smaller down payment.
  2. Call a housing counselor. I know housing counselors. I’ve launched such a nonprofit service myself before. These HUD-certified programs can help you find ways to afford a new home, and they should be the most popular people in the world. Yet many potential homebuyers don’t know they exist.
  3. Torpedo your FOMO. Wait for the housing market to cool down. LendingTree is an online lending marketplace, and even it calls the housing market “insanely hot.” No one wants to miss out on a great deal when everyone else is doing it, but buying a home at the top of the market can be the costliest decision of your life.

I haven’t even mentioned the most boring part of affording a new home. Let’s do that now.

Home is where the cash is

In the LendingTree poll, nearly a third of respondents also fretted about their credit score: “Another 32% of folks might be able to afford a home, but their credit score may make qualifying for a mortgage more difficult.”


Once you understand your credit score, you realize that nearly two-thirds of it comes down to just two factors: credit history and credit utilization. In plain English, that means: Do you pay your bills on time, and are you maxing out your credit limit?


A poor credit score is a symptom. It means you’re struggling to make ends meet now, as a renter. So you must get your own house in order before you buy a house. This is where most people start tuning out because the solution is admittedly not fun. You need to create a monthly budget, stick to it and stick with it. If you don’t have a monthly budget because you find it too complicated or too boring, then I think it’s safe to say that you’re not ready for the paperwork and the maintenance a home will require.


If you’re having trouble figuring out your finances and paying off your debts – and it simply makes no sense to get a mortgage when you have steep credit card balances – then speak with a certified credit counselor and get a free debt analysis.


So, renters, I’ll leave you with this thought: Homeownership begins in your apartment.



This article originally appeared on Debt.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


More from MediaFeed:

7 simple ways to get out of credit card debt fast


Do you have a mountain of credit card debt that just won’t go away no matter how hard you try? Do you feel like you want to live a debt free life but are just not sure how? Here are seven easy ways to help you get out of credit card debt using simple yet effective strategies and take a huge load off your shoulders.




Instead of making monthly payments on each of your credit cards separately, turn it into one consolidated monthly payment. An easy way of doing this is through balance transfer. You can get a new credit card with a lower interest rate than your current credit cards and transfer the balance on all your existing credit cards to that new one.


For example, if you got a new credit card with a 12% interest rate, and your other credit cards have a 15%, 18% and 21% interest rate, you can transfer the balance from these cards onto the new credit card.


This usually has a fee, but many credit card companies waive this fee. And to further sweeten the deal, some credit cards waive the interest for the first few months, which helps you pay back your credit card debt even faster.


designer491 / istockphoto


Personal loans usually have a much lower interest rate than credit cards.  So if you take a personal loan and use it to pay off your credit card debt, you will save a lot of money in interest, and pay off your debt much faster.




In this method, you pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first. By doing this, you pay much less in interest and end up saving lots of money.


You should still pay the minimum amount due on all other credit cards, but put any extra money you have toward paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate.


For example, if you have credit cards with 12, 15 and 18% interest rates, focus all your extra money on the one with the 18% interest rate, while only paying the minimum on the other credit cards.


Once your highest interest credit card is paid off, move on to the one with the next highest interest rate, and so on until all your credit card balances are paid off.


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I don’t mean literally freezing them in a block of ice (although if you want to do that, be my guest). I mean stopping all purchases on your credit card.


You can temporarily freeze your credit card by calling the credit card company, or you can simply stop using your credit cards. This way, you still have them in case of a real emergency. Freezing your credit cards will stop you from racking up any extra debt and help you pay off all of your existing credit card debt much sooner.


BackyardProduction / iStock


Look at your budget (or create one by watching our video on how to create a budget) and figure out how much you’re spending and what you’re spending that money on. Try to reduce your spending on discretionary expenses. For example, if you are spending $300 a month on movies and eating out, you can try to cut it by half to $150.


This could free up money to help pay back credit card debt sooner. And by doing this, you fix the root cause of the problem and learn to live within your means. This way, you are much less likely to go back into credit card debt ever again.


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When you get a bonus from work or a big cash gift for your birthday, you might be tempted to splurge on something. But if you want to get out of credit card debt, it is best to use all – or at least most of the money – to pay off your credit card debt.




If you call the credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate, you might get lucky. This may not work every time, but credit card companies often grant this request.


You can also get a settlement for your credit card debt where you have to pay back only part of your outstanding balance. However, this can have long-lasting repercussions on your credit score and affect your ability to borrow for many years. So debt settlement should only be used as a last resort.


There you have it. Start today and use these strategies to work your way towards a debt-free life!



This article originally appeared on EasyPeasyFinance.comand was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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