Lane Kiffin, the incoming head coach for Florida Atlantic University's nascent football program, is in the market for a multimillion-dollar waterfront abode in Boca Raton, according to a recent profile in Sports Illustrated.
He might consider renting instead.
Kiffin is football's Icarus. The son of a famed assistant, he was hired in 2007—at the tender age of 31—to coach the National Football League's Oakland Raiders. That job lasted two years, after which he helmed the football programs at the University of Tennessee and USC. For the last three years he's been an assistant at powerhouse, and title favorite, Alabama.
That means over the past decade Kiffin has had five jobs in five different cities. He never lasted longer than four years in any one place, and given that controversy seems to find him anywhere at anytime, chances his stay in southern Florida won't be permanent.
Also, Kiffin took a $500,000 pay cut when he accepted FAU's offer. Which means he probably shouldn't be on the market for a $3 to $5 million home, as Sports Illustrated reported.
His recent travails with short-term real estate purchases should have disabused him of that impulse, anyway. He sold homes in Tennessee and Oakland at a combined loss of $1 million, according to SI, and rented his Los Angeles home for $300,000 a year. (Kiffin dramatically lowered his overhead when he moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he rented an apartment for only $2,400 a month.)
Experts generally recommend you live in a home for five years after signing on the dotted line.
"If you buy a house that you plan to live in for less than five years, it is important to understand that what you are doing is essentially betting on the short-term direction of property prices," wrote Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar in their book On My Own Two Feet. "Over the long run, housing prices have gone up. However, you typically need at least five years to have reasonably high odds that your home will appreciate enough in price to offset the additional costs of home ownership."
Plus Kiffin might be buying more house than he can afford. A good rule of thumb is to keep your house at no more than 2.5 times your salary. Kiffin's reportedly earning $950,000 annually, which means the top of his budget should be around $2.4 million, or about $600,000 less than the low end of Kiffin's range.
Conventional wisdom is that FAU may be Kiffin's last best chance to prove his mettle as a head coach. Usually you want to go from an obscure college football program to the NFL, not the other way around. Kiffin, according to SI, told FAU "he plans to stay for a while, hence his decision to buy and not rent."
Maybe. But another mortgage surely won't make Kiffin's accountant sleep better at night.