Is rent money dead money?
Written by Veronica Morgan.
One of the most surprising first home buyer mistakes.

One of the most surprising first home buyer mistakes stems from a belief amongst Aussies (particularly your parent's generation) that rent money is dead money. It seems so logical, right? Why pay somebody else's mortgage when you could be paying your own? Well, we're here to tell you that there are definitely times when it's better to rent than buy.

Parents may mean well, but few are property experts.

You may already suspect this, but getting pressured by your parents into buying property is a bad idea. They probably mean well, but their fear of you missing out on buying a home could lead to bigger problems.

We've seen baby boomer and gen-X parents (mostly dads) bid up big at auction and make their sons and daughters pay too much for their first home. We've seen some parents pressure their kids into buying the family home so they can downsize with ease. Some of them have over-paid too! We've also seen parents go guarantor and then the young couple split up and everyone loses out in the divorce settlement.

But probably the worst advice parents give their kids about property is that prices always rise. They don't.

Negative equity is much "deader" than paying rent.

Negative equity means that you owe the bank more than you'd get if you sold your home. It really is a thing, as a lot of first home buyers who bought a brand new apartment or house and land package have discovered.

It's a fact: not all property goes up in value. Some homes lose money. Sometimes the price dial doesn't move for years. Even if the price stays the same, you've still lost money because elsewhere there are houses and apartments that are going up in value while yours does nothing. This means you get left behind while other people get ahead.

Given that mortgage repayments are often more than you'd be paying for the equivalent property if you rented it, you lose the opportunity to invest the difference elsewhere. The bottom line is that if you make a first home buyer mistake on your first property, your financial future will be more challenging.

You will go from feeling completely lost to feeling like you've got this!
You'll confidently buy your first home without making rookie mistakes.

Avoid the mortgage trap.

One of the biggest first home buyer mistakes is not realising that you need to think about the future. The end game is not buying your first home, it's making sure that your first home is not the last home you ever own!

If you end up with negative equity, you'll be trapped by your mortgage. That means you won't be able to afford to sell up and get out! This is a truly horrible situation to be in and would strip away all of the freedom you have while renting.

If you end up with a property that stays the same price for years, you won't accumulate much in the way of equity. This will prevent you from being able to upgrade when you decide you want to have a family or move to a better area. There's not much freedom in that either.

Let's face it, rent never traps you for long, while a bad property purchase can trap you for life. But on the flipside, if you get this right, you will ensure your long term financial freedom.

There is enormous power in getting the right advice before you buy your first home. Parents are to be treated with respect but caution. Anybody trying to get you to buy off the plan needs social distancing. Remember that rent money is not dead money if the alternative is a home that doesn't go up in value. That's one of the biggest first home buyer mistakes you can avoid with the right guidance.

How ready are you to buy your first home?

Veronica Morgan & Meighan Wells 

Veronica & Meighan are both licensed real estate agents who exclusively help buyers. Together they have nearly 40 years experience as property professionals.

Veronica is principal of Sydney based Good Deeds Property Buyers and is also co-host of The Elephant in the Room property podcast as well as Location Location Location Australia on Foxtel and author of Auction Ready: how to buy property at auction even though you're scared s#!tless!

Meighan is the multi award winning principal of Brisbane based Property Pursuit, chairperson of the REIQ Buyers Agent Chapter & a regular media commentator.

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