Was buying a house right decision?

It is common knowledge that we own a flat back in our old city and we have made considerable progress in paying off the mortgage. However every now and then I am forced to rethink if we made the right choice. There are a lot of things we did right (and wrong) but was that the best thing we could have done with our money. Was Buying a house worth our hard earned money? This is the question we want to talk about today.

This post contains a lot of numbers and follows my twisted mathematical pattern. If you are averse to so many numbers you might want to jump to the end.

Without factoring in the ongoing interest, it cost us 25,34,641 for a two bedroom flat in a new township with a resident’s association. This also includes 1 year of maintenance paid upfront to the builder.

This was at a time when most of the people around us were investing money into houses which started at twice the price. When we were deciding if a two bedroom house is a good deal for us we were driven by what we can afford today instead of what we will need down the line. Some might call us really short-sighted and maybe we were but with a job which moves us every few years it just made sense to us.

Buying a house: What IF??

We know if we go back to living in the city as a joint family we will need to either rent a bigger apartment or another apartment next to ours. That time is clearly not coming in next 5-6 years and none of us know what we will want at that time. Had we chosen to go for a bigger house almost 4 years ago when we booked the flat we would have put money in something which we would not need for another 10 years. It would have resulted in more loan which means more interest, longer loan term and reduced liquidity.

When we booked the flat the income(gross) to price ratio was a comfortable 1:2. Though we were driven by our desire to spend less then, this ratio in hindsight is something we are quite proud of.By the time construction was complete and we got the keys the ratio had gone down to 1:1.5.

Buying a House: The Math of it all

If we were to sell the house today the average market price would yield us 29,60,000; an approximate 16% gain total in over 4 years since we first put a dime in. for the sake of simplicity let’s calculate how things stand today.

Home ownership cost= direct costs till date- tax rebates

Direct costs till date= Amount paid by us+ Loan EMI

Direct cost= 6,67,688 + 11,43,678 = 18,11,366

Tax rebates(assuming 20% tax bracket)= 70,411 + 20600= 90,411

Home ownership cost= 18,11,366 – 90,411 = 17,20,955

Loan remaining= 10,65,000

If we were to sell today our loan would be taken over by the buyer, therefore the amount we will be entitled to on selling is.

Amount earned= 29,60,000-10,65,000=18,95,000

Profit= 18,95,000-17,20,955= 1,74,045

% return= 10.1%

We currently rent out our flat and that has therefore resulted in both costs as well as returns. Let’s take a look at that.

Land lording costs include furniture and fittings for the flat along with rent agreement costs and other fee. For us this came out to be – 35,315.

Rent earned till date:52,500

Net return= 17,185

Tax on profit from property= 3540.11

Actual profit= 13,644.89

Total profit including rent= 1,87,612

% return= 10.9%


Buying a house: Flip side of the money

When we started in 2013 nifty was at 6,000* and today it stands at 8,400. For the sake of easy calculations I have taken 1st April as the bench mark for every year. Currently we maximize our PPF account but that has sadly not been the case for any FY before this one.

Assuming the same distribution of money i.e. maxing our PPF and investing rest into NIFTY index funds would bring us to 23,45,267

If we were to invest everything into nifty index funds we would stand at 21,79,484.

We are not considering FD route because that is something we have never believed in.

Extra tax we would have paid: 70,411

Final standing

Scenario1: 23,45,267- 70,411= 22,74,856

Scenario2: 21,79,484 – 70,411=21,09,073

Gains

Scenario1: 22,54,856-17,20,955 = 5,33,901= 31%

Scenario2: 20,89,073-17,20,955 = 3,68,118= 21.4%

These numbers are quite sobering and definitely make us want to kick ourselves. It would not be wrong to say we lost a lot of money and tied ourselves to the bank for quite some time. In this calculation I have not included the money we put in the OD account to equate our loan. This money earns us no interest but we don’t pay interest on principle amount equal to the money we put in the OD.

We have always lived on rent because we are posted in a different city than the city we own the flat in.


buying a house
Under construction

Talking rationally buying a house was not a good monetary decision and would have put us far ahead in our FI calculations. If we assume that we would have earned an average return of 7% and all the money we have either put in OD and house as well as what we will put in next few years would have resulted in 67,04,570 in 2026. That is over 20% of our FI amount.

We have in last few months discussed investing in real estate but the numbers as we stand today don’t really look good. Not just that the prices have definitely climbed quite up since we last put money in the market. However we do believe that the equation will look quite different in a few years’ time when we are done with the loan. In case we still have a tenant and the housing market continues to go up we can expect the house to maybe close the gap with the invested money.

There is however a fact which we cannot overlook which is how difficult it is to get the money out from this investment. We fully expect to not be able to sell the house at a fair price should we need to in an emergency. This is one of the major factors why I am skeptical if we will ever buy another property. That being said we can definitely not afford to buy a house right now.


I know of a few financial bloggers who have made their riches in the real estate world. Unfortunately I have not been able to find someone like Financial Samurai in the same market as us. We however need to understand the sector and actual return from it before we can think of putting our hard earned money into it.

  • For those wondering if the figures above are actual, well they are pretty close if not accurate. However it doesn’t matter much since the rate of return remains the same no matter how much we put in.
  • If you know of any bloggers in India who have been writing about real estate strategies we would love to know of them.

How has buying a house been for you? Do you believe that it was a great decision?

Update 2016: How did Royally Frugal household do?

Why are Updates necessary? You ask. When we work towards a long term goal it can be very easy to get distracted. Are you looking at retiring in 10 years by saving aggressively? You are lucky if you can retain the gusto every month and every day. This is what makes it important to set smaller goals and keep reminding ourselves that there are smaller and seemingly needless decisions which will make that goal possible.
In our line of work it is very important that a concept be agreed upon and a vision for the finished product be clearly understood. However the stages of development are equally as important. Every small decision made and detail worked out will result in the final reality you want.
As this year closes we have seen a huge change in how we operate both as a family and as individuals. Our understanding of what our future could look like has improved while our capacity to take a messy house has reduced. When we started on the financial independence ‘journey’ early this year, it was to serve a completely different purpose. Also we were making some 50% less than what we make today. A year before that we were spending 50% more every month on our daily expenses every month.
Let’s talk a bit more about what happened in past year 10 months to be exact.

Income

We started 2016 thinking that we were a few bad expenses away from eating into our meager savings. The reason, in February we had to move to a new and very expensive city for our jobs . In this city a tiny flat rents 3X more than what we were dishing out for a two bedroom apartment, back in the old city.
Even if we could swallow a 300% hike in our rent even day to day necessities cost far-far more especially eating out. This meant we had to find a way to increase our income. Our first step was to ask our current company for some more money as relocation compensation. We did get some but that was definitely not enough to save a huge chunk.

Though this cash crunch was the reason we started on our frugal journey we kept on looking for a job and Mr.S found one overseas where he could make the more than what we were making here together. That was the first time we realized how easy putting in the papers can be and how most companies try to retain you.

We ended up staying with quite a considerable bump in the take home monies. December gave us another bump with the regular raise cycle of the organisation. So we can happily report we are earning quite a bit more than we were doing last year same time.

Another income stream opened up for us with rent from our property we have been paying EMIs for last few years. The flat was empty for a year before our agent found a tenant. We put in some of our own money to furnish the flat once we had a tenant and have been using the rent to make up for it till December.
In 2017 that money will go to equate our home loan once again.


Expenses

We started tracking our expenses around March and are finally able to come to an expense trend which spans for a considerable part of the year. Past year had quite a few ups and down and we realized our expense tracking method is probably not the best one.
We managed to reign in our expenses except for last 4 months of the year. Even with these high expenditure months we overall spent far less than what we were doing in the previous city. Below is the total spent under various heads.
Rent: 2,30,000
Household expenses: 2,14,969
Parental Support: 2,10,000
EMI paid (includes interest payment): 2,51,000
Gifts and other expenses: 20,000 (we did not track this but I am assuming a high sum)
Total Expenses tracked: 9,05,969
Total expenses: 9,25,969

This is an average expense of around 90K every month which is a huge sum for sure and it hasn’t been long since we started seeing this amount in our accounts. Every time I see how much we are spending I am shocked. However once I look into the various heads it starts making better sense.
Rent: Our rent is a lot and it has gone higher as the lease period ended. We did consider shifting but this high rent is still the lowest in the area we live unless we shift over 30-40Km from office and resign ourselves to 4 hours of daily commute. The only solace I have is that this is still less than the other houses we saw a year ago, new construction and ample space for the two of us.
Household expenses: We are trying to get our expenses down to 10K a month and Frugalwoods’s UFM challenge has been a good starting point for us. The expenses you see includes our one time setup costs like bed and mattress, a cabinet and a few other knick knacks required to get the kitchen more efficient.
This year we resolved to not buy replacements till we could repair the appliance. We can say for sure that it saved us over 5K in food processor after we got the jars repaired instead of creating more trash. (How do people in India trash their appliances? I have not had to do it even once; do you sell it off to the kabadi waala or repair shops?)
EMI: we have talked about our home loan earlier and how we decided to use part of the equated money to put into our investments. Around 80% of our EMI went into principle and with the rent now coming in from the property we plan on equating the balance again by the end of the year. This equated amount is the emergency fund we have for anything form a sudden medical emergency or a great opportunity.
This March will complete four years of our loan term and we are happy to report that we should finish our loan way before the full 10 year tenure and should not be paying any interest as we start equating the loan principle with the rent.
Gifts and other expenses:
This is something none of us are happy about not because we spent it, because we did not track it. We are sure what I have assumed here is too much but there is no way to confirm how much we actually spent. This category includes gifts we bought for our family, clothes shoes and other personal items. This year onward we will keep a better track of it all and hopefully this year we will have a single head with every expenditure tracked.


As I said in the start it is easy to lose sight of your goals; we are clearly defining our goals for the coming year which should be coming out sometime soon.
If I had to be true I am a bit disappointed in us. We have not been able to rein in our spending for past 4 months. We definitely have a very real reason for most of the over budget amount but that still means we have not achieved the well-oiled machine we hope to run. This year we are working harder to make more efficient budget a norm for us.
That being said there are still times when we look at our spending habits and are surprised at how far we have managed to come within a year.
Did you manage to save and invest better past year?