Sludge Audit

Far and away the biggest obstacle blocking first time buyers from owing a home is fear. There are two types. Fear of the house. And fear of a poor decision.

The purchase of a home is one of the bigger commitments the average guy or gal makes in their life. And the product is a large, multifaceted, multi-mechanical type of a thing. Most people lack a thorough understanding of all that exists behind the sheetrock walls, the workings of the appliances or what exactly is, or is not, connected at the street.

But sign the papers they do. Nod at the inspector as he or she prattles off a variety of flaws in the property. It isn’t any specific understanding of a home that makes buyers secure in knowing everything will be alright. It’s that they most probably have parents and siblings who own a homes, and since they do it– hey it can be done!

When you don’t have that family background of assurances, you don’t have that same sense of security about the whole thing. If a landlord was always the one to fix something, or a management company ‘sent someone over’ then a whole bunch of conversations about ‘what do we do when this happens’, ‘what’s the best way to handle things when that happens,’ and ‘good grief we don’t call a plumber for that, do you now how expensive they are?” went missing.

And if you’ve never eavesdropped on such an analysis, then fear fills up and grows in this void, the void left by not knowing who exactly to call when this beast of a thing called a house has an issue.

Then there is fear number two. The fear of making the wrong choice and having everyone else in on the mistake besides you! For some reason there is frequently a large audience in on home buying conversations. Said audience has plenty of opinions, even when they themselves have not been in the market for over a decade. And these are generously and gratuitously provided.

Many buyers can get caught up in the moment of an objection presented in a workplace conversation, but after further vetting the issue with other homeowners they often right themselves back to an even keel. Those who have few homeowners within their networks are pressed to gather enough information. They don’t know who to trust. There are disparate levels of confidence.

Although the classic policy response to getting more renters into homes is pecuniary, my sludge audit reveals that it is social, as opposed to financial, support which is lacking.