Opinion: How can schools teach students about buying their first home using Monopoly?

From the day you are born to the day you die, you need a home. Shelter is essential for survival. So why don’t schools start teaching students about buying their first home?

Some people might argue that it’s the responsibility of the parents, and I mostly agree with this, but what if you have poor yet hard-working parents like mine who have never owned a home?

Schools already do a great job at educating young people but they need to teach more life skills. I had excellent grades at school and learnt many things that shaped my way of thinking. Yet at the same time, I studied many academic subjects which are of no use in my daily life, such as chemistry, trigonometry, among others … snore).

Educating students with ‘The Grand Monopoly Tournament’

What I propose is that schools and universities introduce ‘The Grand Monopoly Tournament’ for their senior students. A junior tournament can also be organised for younger students who are interested in participating.

Before the tournament begins, each student applies for a loan so they have money to participate. Teachers can use this as an opportunity to educate students about the banking and loan application process, or a finance professional can be invited to do a presentation.

As most students do not have an income, the loan approval criteria is based on each student’s grades. Yes, students with the better grades will be eligible for larger loans. Though some might think this is unfair, it’s a reflection of reality: those with a higher income can obtain larger loans.

The streets and train stations listed on the board game should be based on the area around the students’ hometown. Students submit one street and one station in a ballot; the most popular (or in other words, the most in-demand) streets and stations will be labelled on the board game.

The value of the streets and stations should reflect the current market prices, but be simplified. For example: a property worth £250,000 should be listed as £250 on the board game. This makes calculating the profit and loss much easier for everyone!

The chance and community chest cards should reflect current property laws, taxes, funding and penalties, such as stamp duty fees, first home owner grants, late mortgage repayment fees,  inheritance tax, help to buy scheme, property licences and so forth. This helps students to become more familar with various property investment terminology.

All the rules on how to play this game are the same as the original Monopoly board game. Hopefully the markers of Monopoly won’t be upset with me for proposing their concept – their game is so good and iconic, why not use it to educate students?

Helping students manage their cash flow

This tournament is not just about teaching students how to buy and sell properties, more importantly, it’s teaching them about managing their cash flow.

Positive cash flow means having enough money from your income, or the rent you earn from your tenants, to cover your mortgage repayments, along with all your other property-related bills.

A lot of young and new property buyers mistakenly assume that just because they have money for a deposit, they can afford a house. Cash flow problems is a big reason why homes get repossessed by the bank, and a lot of buyers don’t realise this until they are in financial trouble.

The school tournament should run for two weeks. Thereafter, regional, state-wide and national tournaments should take place.

This will help students understand the property market regionally and nation-wide, and learn to identify developed and under-developed areas. With housing affordability skyrocketing, many young people may have to buy their first property away from their hometowns or most desired location.

I believe The Grand Monopoly Tournament is a simple, low-cost yet fun learning tool with great educational benefits. Teachers can use this game to teach students the skills needed for buying their first home.

Please note, though I own a few properties, I am not a legal, financial or professional property expert. I’ve written this post to share my personal experiences and would love to hear your opinions and views.

What are your thoughts on the roles of schools teaching students about buying their first homes?

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