House Poor No More: 9 Steps that Grow the Value of Your Home and Net Worth by Romana King is one of those books that every Canadian should read. See here for order information.
It’s interesting, engaging, and absolutely packed with useful information.
From a prioritized list of regular home maintenance tasks, to tips on how to pay as little as possible in both mortgage interest and taxes, this book has something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand new (or aspiring) homeowner, or a long-time veteran of the property ladder.
King leads with an often-missed point: Our homes are not just financial investments, they’re sources of wellbeing. Homes are safe spaces that allow us to connect to other people and grow our own sense of self.
While heart-warming emotions aren’t everything when it comes to homeownership, they’re not nothing—and they shouldn’t be treated like they are.
“To make sure your home satisfies all your emotional needs and your financial goals, you’ll need a plan and a course of action. This is what this book will help you do. Consider it the blueprint for smart homeownership.”
King draws on decades of experience in finance and real estate and promises to teach the reader how to:
- Proactively maintain your home
- Increase home value with smart renos
- Reduce monthly expenses
- Take advantage of debt
- Live life as a happy homeowner
That’s a tall order, but she manages it in a way that stays (mostly) accessible and easily digestible without being overwhelming.
I’ve been a homeowner for almost 10 years, and I had a lot to learn from this book. No, really, an embarrassing amount.
What I appreciated about House Poor No More is that it didn’t talk down to me… but it also didn’t assume I knew more than I did. Somehow it struck the perfect note between those two approaches.
King assumed that I already knew some things even if I wasn’t doing them (true) while also making sure to explain the basics of more complex topics in case I wasn’t familiar with them (I wasn’t).
The writing style is direct, straightforward, informative, and informal. It’s like sitting down with a friend and asking them about a topic they can’t wait to share with you.
House Poor No More covers everything from mindset to taxes. Here’s a taste of the tips and information you’ll find:
1. Stop justifying your decision to buy a home and focus on your goals.
King offers statistics and anecdotes to back up the power of goal setting and explains why it’s not foolish to want to own your own home. Arguing with naysayers is a waste of time and energy – she gives you more productive things to focus on.
2. Learn to assess your home’s value
Your home is an asset – so you should have a solid idea of how much it’s worth. This chapter explains the ways you can figure that out. It also looks at the various factors that affect the value and the price of your home.
3. Focus on specific home maintenance priorities to maintain and/or increase property value
Honestly, this chapter alone is worth the cost of the book (and more!). It shows you how to increase value and prevent large-scale repairs and expenses by budgeting carefully and spending your money wisely on home maintenance in key areas.
King even includes a formula to help you figure out how much to budget for maintaining your particular home.
4. Solve problems with strategic renovations and upgrades
Strategy really is the name of the game here – King outlines what to focus on (and why) when you’re making reno plans and the kind of return you can expect to get on your investment.
5. Save money by making small changes
In another goldmine of a chapter, King lists minor upgrades, new habits, and rebates that can save you thousands of dollars. Some of them are obvious to anyone living outside of BC (of course we take our window AC unit out in the winter!) but there were plenty that I hadn’t thought of.
6. Reduce borrowing costs and increase net worth with smart financial strategies
I’ll be honest, this was the chapter that nearly lost me. It’s more math-heavy and big-picture strategy than much of the book and I found it hard to follow at times. However, if this kind of finance is your bag, you’ll find plenty here to engage with.
You can get a taste of this chapter in Romana King’s guest post on Creating Cash Flow and Tax Write-Offs Using a Debt Conversion Strategy. You can also see some related tips in our post on How to Pay Off Your Mortgage in Three Years or our ultimate guide of the Smith Manoeuvre.
7. Protect your asset and save money
King digs into insurance: what you need, what you don’t, what you should look for, and when you should (and shouldn’t) make a claim.
There are plenty of tips here. For example, while I don’t love the idea of making an annual date to read my insurance policy, thanks to King, I now understand why it’s a good idea (and I appreciate her suggestion of rewarding myself with a treat afterwards).
8. Use tax credits and deductions to decrease overall taxes
This chapter talks about all things tax-related including some province-specific credits. also answers some common questions about tax law and how to avoid capital gains tax (spoiler: if you’re selling your principal residence in Canada, there’s a good chance you can avoid them entirely – but read the book first to be sure!).
9. Focus on the positive
King winds up her book with a healthy dose of perspective. She takes on a selection of the things that “they” say and offers a new and encouraging take on them. This chapter is short, sweet, and supportive.
You don’t have to own a home, and our very own Kyle Prevost has written about why he decidedly doesn’t want to. King points out that this isn’t a question of one right choice and one wrong choice—it’s essentially a personal choice. As long as you think strategically and have a plan, you’re 100% fine either way.
Book Review Summary
King sets out to provide readers with “a blueprint for smart homeownership,” and honestly, she pulls it off.
I can see myself referring to this book regularly, especially the chapters on home maintenance and saving. It feels like the kind of book every wannabe homeowner should be given before they even start looking for their first home.
If you’re a homeowner, even if you’ve been one for a decade or more, or if you’re still renting and dream of owning your own home, this book is absolutely worth the investment.
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