If you are above 30 and have worked for between 5 to 10 years then you may have heard questions like this? “when are you going to own your own house”? “Do you want to keep paying rent”? “Look at James your age mate, he has already built a house in his village and in town”. These questions come from people you know very well, especially those you care about? Like your mum, dad, aunt, wife, uncle or even boss? Well, I have and quite recently as such. I recently moved into a house in a suburb of Lagos called and being a rented duplex I received a barrage of calls and advice from folks “who know better” insisting that I begin to build my own house. Naturally, I respond to advice like this in a pious manner retorting that soon the divine will make way. But why don’t I have a house after over a decade of working and why do I need one right now? Have you asked yourself that question too? I did and here is what I found out?
Why do I Need to own a House?
Everyone desires to own a house but have you ever thought why? What makes a rented apartment/house less appreciated that an owner occupier house? Does owning a house mean you have financial freedom? Do people who own houses fare better than those who do not on the long run? Does owning a house make a man healthier than those who do not? Does it take you to heaven? I have no answers to these questions but I do know why I do not own a house and why I should own a house.
So first of all, why should I own a house?
I know there are many but this are the fundamental reasons why I think one should own a house;
1. Pride – The first reason why any one should want to own a house is the pride that comes with it. For most it is a reflection of one’s success in life and a statement of manhood. Even the bible acknowledges the need in Jeremiah 29,5 saying “Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them”. So if pride is important to you then you must own a house provided you can afford it
2. Comfort – Some also own house because of the comfort that comes with it. Most spend loads of money designing a house that fits their desires, style and taste. And such can hardly be gotten in a rented apartment as it may mean reconstructing another man’s property. Some also own several houses in their villages, vacation spots, business spots, recreational houses etc. These are all meant to give a level of comfort that only gets limited to the insatiability of the owner. So if you are one who desires a unique form of comfort then owning a house or houses is a necessity.
3. Capital Gains/Investments – Some also own houses for Investment purposes. These are property owners like land lords and Real Estate Investors who build houses to derive some form of capital gains from them. Houses can also be used as collateral to borrow money and invest in other businesses which could ultimately increase the benefit of the owner. For real estate investors and property speculators, owning houses is a means to eke a living.
4. Financial Independence – One can also own a house to be independent from the state, landlords or anyone else who’s accommodation may infringe on his dependence on his money. He needs not pay rent to a landlord, government, community etc. If you hate paying rent and want to hedge against increase of rent from shylock landlords, then owning your own house and living in it is necessarry.
Now there may be other reasons but you will agree these are the most important reasons why one should own a house(s). But why don’t I own a house yet. To answer that I will have to ask myself one important question. How can one own a house?
I believe there are four ways and these are;
1. Inheritance – One can own a house if the house is passed on legally from a relative, friend, acquaintance. This is usually written in a will or sometimes can be determined by culture and tradition that is passed on from generations before.
2. Income/Savings – Another way that one can own a house is through personal savings or income. Income derived from salaries or investment can be used to purchase a house outrightly. However that depends on how much the income is and if it is enough to buy the house of your choice
3. Mortgage – This is probably the mostly popular and widely used method of owning a house. By borrowing from a bank or mortgage institution people can buy houses and pay back over time. In Nigeria, this can range between 4 – 10 years, in developed economies its probably between 15 to 30 years.
4. Gift/donations/raffle – One can also own a houses through gifts, donations, lottery or raffle. They are all in the same category as they individually do not require you to pay for the full value of the house or put some money down as in a mortgage or inherit from a relative. It simply involves someone giving you a house for next to nothing.
With the above it is easy to explain why I do not on a house. If I am yet to inherit one or can afford to by one from my present income or get an affordable mortgage or gifted one then I may just have to rent one lest I remain homeless. And since the only reason I probably want to own a house now is more of pride, it however does not surpass the more important desire which is comfort. Meaning, I rather pay rent a comfortable house than own and live in a house in Mowe which my salary may probably afford to build in about 4 years. I know people who own houses but still live in rented apartments.
The ODD Scenario
But then there are some who earn as much as I do, some who earn much lower and some without a defined source of income who own house(s). How is that possible when they did not inherit it and neither was it a gift. They obviously did not pay for it from their income as the math wouldn’t just add up. This only leaves me with perhaps one answer….CORRUPTION. The quickest source of making money in the Nigeria and indeed the world. So presently, if I am to own a comfortable home using my present income I may as well have to steal public or private funds to afford it. And if I refuse to steal or defraud, the only available option will be to rent which is what I am doing now.
That’s the tragedy of Nigeria, where people have severed the link between success and it’s source. The source of success never comes to mind so far as you have not been caught. If I did not have a job or a steady source of income then people can easily infer that the source may have been fraudulent. Thats different for one with a steady source of income. No one ever thinks the money was obtained from stolen wealth. It is seen as share hardork and a sign of progress. “He/she is doing well” as they often say. Finally, to my dear Uncle, I may not be “doing well” enough to own a house in your opinion. But in my opinion if the source of funding a house does not meet the four conditions above or the reasons do not meet the four above as well, then I amy well continue in my rented apartment so as long as my income can pay it.