Was buying a house right decision?

buying a house

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?

4 Comment

  1. I may not be the right person commenting on the real estate in India, as I have most of mine in Australia. My first one was in India though (still have it).
    Its either good luck or a lot of ground work that I put in before committing to any buy, but I have done well with those.
    As an example, I bought my first apartment in Thane (MH,India) for 9L which was cheap as chips at that time, but it was also almost the remotest place you could go if you travel to Thane station everyday. 3 years later, it became the center of many residential and commercial developments. It has increased 9 folds in value (it paid off, so no mortgage) since I bought it 12 years ago.
    In Australia, however, I employed a different strategy. Buying houses with land, as they cannot be made anymore. Those have gone fairly up since I bought them, with rents paying at least 75% of the mortgage and costs and 10-15% is returned during tax returns. So, I manage these properties with very less. Cherry on top is the increase in the value of the houses.
    In India (pre-demonetisation) I have seen a few acquaintances buying off the plan (under construction) and on-selling them to the builders before settlement. Not sure if this works anymore.

    1. That is probably as good of a deal as you could have had in Thane. Currently everything in the suburb is over 50L. Great judgement.
      What is the tenure of your mortgage? We increased our EMI and reduced tenure to be free earlier. With a 30 year tenure current rent would take care of more than 60% of mortgage. Maybe I should do another post on which loan tenure would have been better for us.

      I am sure people have found a way to manage their finances even after demonetization.
      This makes me wonder why you would want to shift to India post retirement if most of your properties are in Australia.

      1. I assume when you ask about the tenure, you are referring to the Australian property. I have paid off the Indian one. It is 39 years and for the investments, I pay interest only to make sure I pay as less as possible if my money maximising the deductibles.
        The reasons I would want to retire in India is to be closer to my siblings and family when I grow older and also travel all around India for a year. It’s also cheaper to live on rent or rent free with family(for a while) when I come there.
        Returns from the property in Australia will be enough to fund my travel and kids education, I guess!

  2. […] said above and in multiple posts here and here we own a flat. We also own a home loan to go along with it and it is more than what the rent […]

Leave a Reply