The hidden costs of a mortgage loan

I have recently been searching for apartments, not for the purpose of investing, but as a primary residence. I know, my house should not be seen as an asset and it is definitely not the smartest financial move I can do, however I do feel that I would be more emotionally comfortable if I buy my own apartment. Ultimately, you have to feel good about where you spend your money!

We currently own 2 small apartments which we rent short-term, we bought them relatively cheap and now we are checking the possibility of selling one of them, making a profit, and using that cash for our primary residence. As our primary residence would be a 3-bedroom apartment and in the capital city, we would still need extra cash to pay for it, which we currently do not have. And this is why we have decided to contact banks to understand how much would we pay for your mortgage. I am completely shocked and I have decided to share my concerns with you so that you can also be aware of all the costs you will face when asking for a mortgage.

First of all, there are taxes and costs related to the purchase of the house you have to take into account. If an apartment is advertised at 300k, do not forget you have to pay 300k + taxes + other costs. Depending on the country, normally you need to add at least 4% on the advertised price.

In terms of costs that you have to pay to the bank, there are a lot of small costs and the fact that banks do not generally merge all of those has a purpose, i.e., so that you do not clearly see how much exactly you have to pay. Be aware of:

  • Costs you have to pay at the beginning of the mortgage: depending on the country, those can include taxes on the mortgage (in Portugal you pay 0.8% on the value of the mortgage) + numerous small costs for formalising the deal, such as payment for evaluating the home and others. Those can easily increase the price of your home by 1% or 2%, which is relatively significant.
  • Interest rate: currently interest rates are very low which might be an incentive for people to buy real estate. Indeed, we were offered a 1% rate, which is quite low. However, even with a 1% interest rate, if we are considering a 300k loan, we would pay 65k of interest over the period of 40 years, i.e., an average of 135 Euros per month. In addition, in many countries, they do not offer you a fixed rate, but instead a spread on the Euribor. As the Euribor is currently around 0%, banks assume this will be the rate for the next 40 years when they provide you with the mortgage payment simulation. This is very misleading! Be aware that most likely interest rates will increase and, therefore, we would have to pay more than 65k.
  • Insurance: Because banks need to be protected in case you do not pay your mortgage, they generally request that you have both a home and life insurance. Normally they also have an insurance company in the group and they strongly recommend that you use their products. In our case, the costs of the insurances over a period of 40 years was almost 100k, i.e., almost 200 Euros monthly.

Even though this is all very country specific, I believe in general the rules are relatively similar in Europe. Of course the exact costs and %s will depend on the country, banks and your specific individual situation.

Summarising and just to give you an example with numbers, if you are buying a home of 300k, you will have to pay to the seller 312k. You will then have to pay the bank as initial costs around 3k, which makes the total initial cost of the property = 315k. If you are granted a 40 years’ loan, even with a low interest rate, you will pay 165k in total for both interest rates and other costs (mostly insurance). Total price of the apartment = 480k, 60% higher than the advertised costs of 300k.

Crazy, right?

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Financial Statement – December

Savings rate = 49%

Total net worth increase = + 6,655 EUR

December was not an amazing month as our savings rate went down mostly due to gifts and money spent going out with friends and family. We could have though about ways of being more frugal but we were a bit lazy this Christmas to do it!

We still manage to pay off our debt and to increase our cash reserves, so overall not bad. However, it is low season for our short-term real estate business and therefore it only yield 600 Eur.

Cash 9,650 +1,300
Net Cash flow Real Estate Business 3,100 +600
Pensions 91,460 +1,570
Security deposit for current house 2,500 0
Rental Property #1 115,000 0
Rental Property #2 120,000 0
Debt (Bank) -12,705 +3,185
Total networth 329,005 +6,655

This is lower than my expectation but hopefully next month, with a salary increase and a small bonus, the goal of growing my networth by 8k every month will be real again 🙂

Financial Statement – November

November: another great month!

Savings rate = 57%

Total net worth increase = + 8,445 EUR

This is great to compensate the crazy month of December. Even though I try to be frugal, I always end up buying a few things for some family members that would take it wrong if no gifts are exchanged + I go back to my home country and I met with so many people I haven’t seen for ages, which means I end up spending way more than normal on lunches/brunches and dinners.

Cash 8,350 +2,400
Net Cash flow Real Estate Business 2,500 +1,300
Pensions 89,890 +1,560
Security deposit for current house 2,500 0
Rental Property #1 115,000 0
Rental Property #2 120,000 0
Debt (Bank) -15,890 +3,185
Total networth 322,350 +8,445

I am now 36% FI 🙂

Financial Statement – October

October was a very exciting month! We were able to grow our net worth by 9.285 Eur, which is the maximum we have been able to do so far. There were a couple of reasons for this success:

  • Our savings rate was 57%, which is probably the highest value so far. I calculate our savings rate based on our salaries and I do not consider the cash-flow yield by our real estate business. No big or unexpected expenses this month!
  • I have adjusted the value of our rental properties and increased the overall value by 2000 Eur. Still, the values I consider are at least 20% below market value, but I want to be on the safe side here in case of a market crash. To compensate for this, I have decreased by 1000 Eur the money we expect to receive when we leave our current flat. Due to our baby, the flat is not as in good shape as it should, I am assuming we need to spend some money arranging the walls and the floor before we leave (2500 Eur is my current estimation).
  • Our real estate cash-flow has yield us 1.200 Eur net, which is amazing especially taking into account that we have hardly any work and it is not high season anymore.

 

Cash 5,950
Net Cash flow Real Estate Business 1,200
Pensions 88,330
Security deposit for current house 2,500
Rental Property #1 115,000
Rental Property #2 120,000
Debt (Bank) -19,075
Total networth 313,905

I am 35% FI (still 65% to go!). Seems like a lot but I think the hardest work is done, which is to get enough cash that allows you to start investing and creating passive income. In our case, passive income is generated through real estate but you can of course decide on what products suit you the best.

Currently, I am having another dilemma: invest the money we are saving or save it and buy a property for us to live in the future?

To FIRE or not to FIRE?

I have been recently been thinking a lot about my options in terms of reaching or not reaching FI. My FIRE number, for me and my family, is around 900k and our net worth is currently a bit over 300k, which is great, but I am still veeeeeery far away. My options are the following:

  • Stay for 6 more years in Germany and reach my number (I am Portuguese and currently living in Germany where salaries are much better compared to Portugal) with the caveat that around 30% of my networth would be in my pension, i.e., I could only have access to it at 55 (whaaaat? I am only 32!);
  • Stay for 1 more year in Germany, reach barely half FI and go back to my home country where prices are lower and with a passive income that would cover 30/40% of my expenses + some cash.

This is probably a typical dilemma that many people in this community face: wait for FI or risk and try a career that does not yield that much money but you feel passionate about? In my case I have also strong personal reasons for wanting to go back to Portugal, I am waiting for baby #2 and I would really like to raise them near my family and near our friends which are having babies at the moment as well. I could also use some help from family members 🙂 But on the other hand, I feel like I am bailing on my own plan if I go back and that we did the effort of saving and investing for nothing, i.e., we would still would need to work.

I recently listened to this podcast from Journey to Launch and I am in a very similar situation as her: in a corporate job with a great salary, waiting for a baby, and it got me thinking whether I should just take this opportunity where I will be out of the workforce anyway (due to my maternity leave) to not go back to this job. I am definitively a Type-A personality and I know I will not be able to stop working, I need projects, I like business interactions and I am passionate about so many topics. None of them would allow me to get a similar salary to the one I have now (not even 1/3) but I feel like I could give it a try. Worst case scenario: I am young and I could go back to working in Banking in my home country. Not ideal as salaries are not very high and hours are long..

Problem: my partner believes we should stay for a couple of more years and that my 900k estimation is too optimistic, especially taking into account that we will soon have 2 kids. He is also very risk adverse and does like the instability of an entrepreneurial lifestyle.

What are your views? “Suffer” until you reach FI or reach half FI and risk a new job/occupation that fulfills your heart but would still have to yield some cash?

Financial Statement – September

It’s been a while I don’t update my financial statements (last time was in May!) and many things happened during this period:

  • I stopped investing in Peer to Peer: it yields me less cash flow than my rental properties and I believe that once the economy turns around many of these debtors will not be able to repay the loans. It will probably not happen now but I think it will at some point.
  • I have established a proper company to manage my 2 rental properties that are currently rented for tourists. It is more efficient in terms of taxes.
Cash 3,600
Peer to Peer 0
Pensions 86,780
Security deposit for current house 3,500
Rental Property #1 100,000
Rental Property #2 133,000
Debt (Bank) -22,260
Total networth 304,620

My net worth has actually increased very little from May to September, less than 24k. This is due to the fact that we bought a second house and had to pay extra taxes, which we do not count as equity, and also the fact that we bought furniture for the new apartment and I do not account for that either in my net worth calculation. I have also decreased by 500 Euros the amount of security deposit for the current house. In general, I prefer to be on the conservative side.

From now on, as no costs related to the business/rental properties are expected, apart from the recurrent ones, we should be able to keep up with the 50% savings rate on our salaries and hopefully increase our net worth by around 8k every month. We now have income from our salaries + passive income from 2 rental properties. Our 2 rental properties should yield between 400 and 1800 net per month, depending on the season, which is very exciting.

Now that we are having extra cash and real estate prices are completely crazy, where shall we invest? I am thinking index funds dividend related. What is your view?

Financial Statement – May

Even though our savings rate was not great (48%) we managed to take care of many things related to Property #2. We will pay it completely over the next couple of days/weeks, therefore I have already excluded the cash we are about to pay from the Cash category.

Cash 600
Peer to Peer 863
Pensions 78,030
Security deposit for current house 4,000
Rental Property #1 100,000
Rental Property #2 133,000
Debt (Bank) -35,000
Total networth 281,493

Very soon I will update you on the real numbers of my first real estate investment which is yielding more than what I had previously calculated!