Dream Home or Mortgage Free?

By Tom Albrecht | May 31, 2017 | Fort McMurray- Buyers Advice

Something I have been pondering recently is the big question: “What’s the point?”

I mean, I help people buy homes for a living. Different people from different walks of life and with varying professions and perhaps most importantly, people at different stages of their lives. What I do is assess client’s lifestyle needs and help them find homes that best suit their needs.

What is weird, is that we live in this crazy town called Fort McMurray, where economic activity doesn’t so much “ebb and flow” as “rock, roll, die and roll again etc”. That is, five years ago when I started out (long before The A-Team), I had families come to me from the same backgrounds, from the same walks of life and at the same stages of their lives as those that I help today.

But they are choosing very different houses. At least most are…

Times change and so do incomes and job security etc. and it is amazing to see how families’ preferences and attitudes change based on the economic cycle. For example, I recently pondered out loud on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter: “Would you rather live in your Dream Home or mortgage free”.  It was fascinating to see how many of our followers who chimed in (who are mainly clients, but not all) opted for “mortgage free” and it made me think.

How different would the response be during boom times? I suspect it would be the other way round. I myself, for example, though I am a very systematic Buyer’s Agent, who helps others make the best decisions for their families with some ease, flip flop almost weekly, between two extremes:

On one hand, maybe the next home we buy is a Dream Home? On the other hand, maybe we buy something much more modest with the goal of not having a mortgage one day. If the boom ever comes back, option number 1 would be great in hindsight. On the other hand, perhaps the conservative option is best given our incomes are tied to the value of homes as it is.

The answer for individual families, I suspect, probably depends mainly, not on our backgrounds, professions or life stages, but more on things like financial security, and perhaps most importantly of all your long run view of the future of our town. More simply:

The answer to “mortgage free or dream home”? It depends on your view of the future.


- Tom Albrecht

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Tom Albrecht founded The A-Team with his wife, Breanna. He holds a Masters in Economics for Developing Countries from The University of Oxford. Tom is licensed at RE/MAX First, and is a specialist buyer's agent in Alberta - specifically, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks & Chestermere. He was rated #1 Calgary agent in 2022 & 2023 by rate-my-agent.com