'Borujerdis House' by San Panteno. flickr.com

‘Borujerdis House’ by San Panteno. flickr.com

 

My sister-in-law is a pretty funky girl, and she’s thoughtful as well. She posted this on her FB wall, and I’ve been given permission to reproduce it here.

 

A lot of you are looking into buying your first (or next) home at the moment. As a Christian and a residential property valuer, I feel qualified to give some tips on this matter but the valuer in me must add this disclaimer: I do NOT know your personal and financial circumstances so this does not by any means provide personal or financial advice. This list of tips is also more for owner-occupiers but most of the tips are still applicable to investors.

1. Consult first

Having a mortgage ties you down financially and physically (to a set location) so it’s a big decision to make and not one to make lightly. Pray about it. Make sure you want this for the right reasons (see next tip). Ask your Christian mentors and friends about it; we ask them for advice before pursuing a relationship so why not ask them about something this massive too? They can also keep us accountable if we start getting carried away and lose focus on God.

2. Check your heart

I’ll make this personal. Having my own home makes my life feel more secure and stable and, well, mine. But as someone who loves Jesus, who himself was homeless for the three years of his ministry before his death and resurrection, I need to remember that this world is NOT my home and that I am but a stranger passing through it for the briefest of times before I go Home where God dwells.

I also need to remember that having a house gives a false sense of security and stability and possessiveness: anything can happen for this house to be taken away from me and at the end of the day, my ability to buy and keep a house comes from God so it’s really HIS house that I look after. It’s a gift. Not a right. This reminds me of the story of the guy who said to God while his house was burning down, “Oh look, God, your house is on fire!”

As with all things in life, check your heart constantly throughout your life to make sure you have the right motivations but it is especially applicable when it comes to your home as it involves a lot of money and time, both of which can easily distract us from God and our true purposes in life if we let it.

3. Location, Location, Location

So you’ve prayed. You’ve checked your heart. You’ve even saved enough for a deposit. It’s time to start looking! You know the property mantra but it also applies to Christians, though in a different way. Yes, it’s important to find a place close to work, good transport, schools, etc. but how about finding a place that is close to church? Close to a community of people you see as your personal “mission field”? Being a Christian also means being a part of the local church and it’s a lot easier to do the work of a local church if you’re, well, local. If you want to make it that much easier to invite people from church to your house for bible studies or just for a meal or for discipleship meet-ups, or you want to invite your non-Christian friends over, then isn’t is better for them if you’re close by?

You’re not called to do exactly what Jesus did (go homeless and travel to where the mission took him) but if you can make it easier for those you are called to serve and love to be part of your life and vice versa, it’s worth thinking about it and prioritising over finding a house close to, say, a good school.

4. Don’t make your mortgage your master

You know these people. Or maybe you’re one of them. They bought their dream home and now they spend almost every moment working to pay off the mortgage. They may even be working more hours than necessary just to pay off the mortgage quicker and save on the interest. You might see them on (some) Sundays at church but you know they don’t have a growth group or a bible study they regularly attend. They don’t have time to serve at church or invite people round. Even when they have spare time they are too tired from working to do any ministry work…

While there is some wisdom in making financial decisions that ultimately save us money in the long run, it again comes down to your motivations. Please please please don’t let money (or your mortgage) be your master. No one on their deathbed ever says, “I wish I had paid off my loan quicker.” If you value relationships and doing the work of the gospel (which you should, if you’re a Christian) then please don’t let your mortgage distract you from those things. A good way to make sure you don’t do so is by making sure your mortgage isn’t too big for you in the first place (i.e. just because you can buy a $700k house doesn’t mean you need to – why not go for that $400k old townhouse? The money you could save can be better spent furthering God’s Kingdom in other ways and will also give you the time and freedom to serve more and invest in relationships instead of a building.)

5. Find a house for ministry

Only need 1 bedroom? Maybe find a house with a spare bedroom; it’ll help you show hospitality to someone travelling or migrating or someone who has nowhere else to sleep. Only need a living area to fit two adults? Maybe find a place with a living area big enough to have groups for church meetings or bible studies and a dining area big enough to fit 12 people to share meals with. Contrary to what the world thinks, your home does not belong to you but to God. He has given it to you as a gift. In fact, your life doesn’t belong to you either but to God. Use your home (and life) wisely and in ways that would please him in response to his grace.

There is more that I could say but I also want to hear your thoughts. What did YOU think through when choosing your home? And what would you have changed if you had the chance?

 

About the only thing I’d add to that is that when considering the location ease of parking is another factor. Great room space with poor parking makes it hard to invite anyone over. Any more thoughts? Add it in the comments below…

 

 

 

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