A friend asked me today what my â€œtheological positionâ€? was on owning property. Here are some random thoughts:
I have a couple of related views that I would say are more "interpreted values" than hard-line beliefs.
I think it is wise to establish your business solidly before purchasing / building a house (Proverbs 24:27)
Practically speaking, a house (that you live in) is a very large outlay of funds that does not provide a return (except on capital growth), and so you would be far better off investing that money into income producing assets first, and then purchase a house on the return of that investment (leaving you with both a house and remaining investment capital).
I think this is the "wisdom" behind Proverbs 24:27 – too many people chase their own tail or end up in a career they can’t escape in order to service their mortgages.
I could go on with other thoughts about lost capital, and rent vs mortgage but they aren’t necessarily theological.
I would prefer to avoid a mortgage.
This is seen as almost an impossibility today, but possibly only because we all want houses that we can’t really afford (to keep up with the Joneses) and because our housing market (land values mainly) are inflated because the access to housing finance that we do have makes the land we do buy seem more affordable than it is.
The bible has some things to say about usury (interest) and debt (Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:36, Proverbs 22:7) that leads me to think that it is best avoided (but not necessarily wrong).
Too many of us find our worth in our house
This is a tough one – our society judges our "success" on a) our house and b) our car, though it is funny to think I can go out and get a house loan and a car loan tomorrow, and be more "successful" but have no change in net worth (if not worse off).
And to make it tougher – the above principals only prove themselves after half a lifetime. In the mean time, society says you are wrong and after that society doesn’t care because it looks too much like hard work (you won’t sell any books).
How we put this into practice? Well, Louisa and I have come to a resolve that we are happy renting until the time is right to buy or build. We pay far more rent than I’d like, but that is only because of the area we live in (and believe we have been sent to) and it is still very low compared to the mortgage if we owned the place. In the mean time, I throw money into my business, because our business (God willing) will be what provides for our family and the work that we have to do into the future.
One day I’d like to buy a bush block somewhere (Tasmania?), and over time build a house on it. It would likely be a smaller house, and my goal would be to build it without using debt. We would use it more as a retreat / holiday home until we retired, when it would become our home.
Also, it must be said that whatever we do we should do it for God’s honour, considering the work of the Kingdom, and reflecting Jesus’ character.