I have a wonderful 23-year-old daughter who is currently in shidduchim. She has been working for about 4 years so far and has a large sum of money in her savings account by now. We hope that she will be married soon, but we do not know Hashem’s plans.
I feel that it would be wise for her to use her money (which is rapidly going down in value) to buy a house. If she buys in a specific neighborhood that we are looking at, she can make a large down payment, and she can easily cover the mortgage payments with rental income.
She thinks it’s a good idea, but we both wonder if it would be a little weird for her to own a house before her marriage. Would her husband be happy about it? Would it put undue pressure on the couple to live in a specific neighborhood that he may not want to live in? Would her date be scared away and think that she is too high-powered?
We would really appreciate hearing your input.
Before addressing the question presented, I would just like to say that I find this line of inquiry to be one of the most interesting and intriguing topics that I can recall discussing in this space. Additionally, insofar as the last thing I am is an expert on speculative real estate investing, I will limit my thoughts to the impact of rental properties on marriage and dating, and steer clear of offering any sort of financial advice.
That said, there is one primary thought I would like to share, and one comparatively small aside. First, when it comes toshidduchim, everything means something to someone. It could be mean something good or something bad, but it will have meaning. For example, someone might be very artistic or musical. Someone might be highly introverted, and someone else might be the loudest person in the room. Someone might be exceedingly academically intellectual, and someone else might be unusually fascinated by and in tune with sociocultural human behavior. Someone’s parents may be divorced, and someone may have siblings with some sort of substantial difficulty in one aspect of life or another. Someone’s family may be legendarily wealthy, and someone may come from a historically famous Jewish lineage. Any prominent attribute related to a person or their background will be noticed, and will carry meaning in one way or another.
For some, their goal in shidduchim is to paper over anything and everything that is not essentially run-of-the-mill, effectively creating a ubiquitously vanilla portrait of selfsameness so that not even one tiny morsel of data will be eye-catching, and thus hoping to garner impossibly widespread attention. Of course, this is both silly and absurd. No one and no one’s family is actually that featureless or broadly alluring. It is merely a matter of when those idiosyncrasies will make their way to the surface. In fact, most of the time, they have already emerged, and the only person being fooled is the person who has constructed this farcical persona themselves. The tapestry of every Jew is its own masterpiece, and we should all recognize and appreciate our own intrinsic and unique beauty, while also knowing that beauty remains firmly in the eye of the beholder. It is inherently human to be deemed appealing for marriage by some, and rather the opposite by others. Faux universal attraction due to insipidness is neither realistic nor something to be prized.
Similarly, a young single woman owning a rental property is almost assuredly going to be a talking point. By my estimation, it is not so outré as to be considered a poor decision or a nonstarter of an idea, but it will not likely go unnoticed. However, it will land differently, mean different things, and be interpreted differently, by different people. And that is absolutely ok. Some may applaud the purchase as the sign of a go-getter with a can-do attitude, others may find it off-putting for one reason or another, and for all I know, yet others may actually find it wholly inconsequential.
Accordingly, I would recommend refraining from directing any intense and narrow emphasis on who will think what about such matters. Instead, I would suggest centering the focus on whether or not this acquisition is an authentic reflection and representation of the nature of the buyer, and something that will produce sensations of happiness, satisfaction, accomplishment, and of being fiscally astute. And if that is precisely what it will do, I would encourage that person to move forward with their goal, feeling secure that the type of person they would hope to marry is exactly the type of person who would respect, admire, and value what this choice says about the person who made it.
Second, I believe it should be acknowledged that the position of landlord is not always a walk in the park. A great deal of stress can be induced as a result of Erev Shabbos or midnight calls for all manner of repairs; unexpected and large out-of-pocket expenses due to said maintenance; and the dreaded stretches of vacancies wherein zero income is produced. Such challenges are hard to handle for fulltime professionals, and would be all the more so for a single woman, or for a young couple with small children (if it turns out they decide to live elsewhere). This is not to say that a single man or woman, or young couple, cannot or should not own a rental home. But it does mean that they have to be quite sure of their capacity to shoulder this notable responsibility, and fully cognizant of the accountability they will have to whoever is living in that house.
May the Malah Ha’aretz Kinyano confer comprehensive clarity, confidence, and competence to all those who strive to be true to who they are.