Most people dream of owning a home.  Five years ago, this was a dream reserved for people above 35 and going on to retirement.  However, now with so many options and with such an investment savvy generation, owning a home has become a reality and goal for anyone of legal age. 

However, just because you dream of it does not mean that you have to do it.  There are obvious downsides to owning a home. One major downside is the additional responsibility that comes with owning a home. Before you could have relied on the landlord to handle maintenance issues but as a homeowner that lies solely on you.  Another downside is the financial burden. Buying a house is not an easy fete.  If it was everyone would do it.  It requires various fees that are outside of the buying price. 

There are also benefits.  That house will be an asset.  It can be used as collateral for loans in the future.  You can also rent it out and move to smaller premises if your income situation downgrades.  In the same circumstance, you would also be relieved that you do not have to pay rent. Point is, there are benefits and demerits which means that you should weigh your decision wisely and carefully. Below are some factors to consider. 

1. Income

You will need to be realistic about your financial situation before you buy a house.  You cannot be an intern earning 10,000 shillings a month and still hope that you can walk into a real estate company and be heard.  Give yourself time to get to that financial point where whatever payments you are supposed to make will not render you hungry or temporarily homeless.  Take your time to gain the financial capacity for this kind of move.  Your monthly income will also be a major determinant of the kind of plan you get.  The company needs to know that you are capable of making monthly payments. 

2. Ability to commit

You may have sufficient income but can you really afford to commit to buying house right now?  Imagine a situation where you have an income of 100k a month but also have to pay school fees for your siblings as well as take care of your mum’s medical bills.  Taking on this additional responsibility will wear you to the bone.  Not only will you be stretching yourself too thin financially but your mental health will be significantly affected. 

The bureaucracy of buying a house in this country especially if you are not using good real estate company will have you teetering know the edge of madness.  All the papers you will need to submit to the authorities as well as inspections not to mention how many people will expect bribes.  This is all before you consider all the surly civil servants you have to come across.  You will need both the financial and mental capacity to take this on.  You also have to understand what responsibilities come with owning a home before you even begin the process.

3. Options

There are many home ownership options on the market.  Gone are the days when you either had to build or get the traditional mortgage.  However, each option has its own requirements.  You should think about the options you have at your disposal.  What do you qualify for?  Will the option you qualify for be well suited to your unique situation?  There is no need to tie yourself to a home ownership option that leaves you frustrated and stressed.  The Kenyan real estate market is riddled with innovation and turn-key solutions. 

4. Flexibility

Renting offers more flexibility than owning does.  When you are a renter, you can simply move from one neighborhood from another without incident.  If you are a renter you can decide that you would like to upgrade to a larger or smaller unit.  If you are a renter, you can decide that the commute is too tedious for you and find a place closer to your workplace.  However, if you own a home it is yours and such decisions become more complicated.  If you live in Syokimau and your office moves to Westlands from Sameer Park then you have to find means that will get you to work on time without being too expensive.  If you want more rooms you can build extensions but really how much can you expand one house?  How about if you are offered a wonderful job in a different county or country but have no family?  You might need to get a real estate management company to help get a tenant for your house.  As mentioned before, owning a house is its own set of responsibilities.  Not necessarily bad though. 

5. Economy

This is perhaps one of the most important factors on this list.  Imagine a scenario, you buy a house today but the economy only gets worse and inflation becomes untenable.  You will lose significant value on your house.  Not only will it be hard to resell if the economy hits you but you will not be able to get as much as you bought it for.  You may also be able to scrape enough to make a down-payment but due to the rapidly rising unemployment in this country, you lose your job. This could make you unable to make the payments henceforth.  To buy a house you need finances as well as a steady economy.  If you take nothing else from this list consider those two.  Your feelings and sense of freedom will not matter much in the face of these two factors. 

The decision to buy or rent should be made with a lot of caution, a lot of thought and even more research. Be wise about this decision. Happy choosing!