Choosing Between Renting and Buying
There are many things to consider when buying a home. Since it is likely that the purchase of a home will be the most expensive purchase of your life, you will want to consider several things before you start to look for a home.
If you are currently renting, you need to know about the possible advantages of home ownership, and if they apply to your current situation. Are you financially ready to make such a large investment? How expensive of a home can you afford? Is the current market environment favorable for buying a home?
Compare the cost of owning and renting the same home. This is simple enough to do. Just take the monthly mortgage and other housing costs and compare it with the cost of renting that same property. Remember to figure the tax savings by taking the cost of the mortgage payment plus property taxes and multiplying that by your tax rate. This will give you a fairly good idea of your tax savings each month. Subtract those savings from your monthly housing costs if you were buying and compare that with the rental rate. If they are very close in monthly expense it is usually a good value to buy.
This can also be a good way to compare the current housing market. It will tell you if the current housing is a fair value, over priced or under priced. Remember, in some very desirable areas it will almost always cost more to buy then to rent. If the additional expense is more then 20 to 30% you should be cautious. Be particularly cautious if you plan on moving again in the next 3 to 5 years.
It should cost you less to own a home then to rent. There is a fairly simple calculation that will tell you this:
Take your monthly rent multiplied by 200 = purchase price of home
($___________rent per month X 200 = $_________________ )
Example: $900 X 200 = $180,000
In this example, the payment on a $180,000 home would be comparable to a $900 monthly rental payment.
In addition to the current cost of rent vs. purchase, you must also take into consideration the future cost. As a renter you are exposed to future rent increases. It is reasonable to expect an annual increase of 4% per year to your rent.
There are many advantages to home ownership. The value of a home usually increases during the years that you are paying your loan down. This increase in equity is building up the wealth you accumulate in your home. Even without this expected increase in value, paying on a mortgage over 30 years can guarantee that you will own your home free and clear. The equity you are building in your home can be borrowed against at some future time for college expenses, vacations, remodeling the home or almost anything else you might need the money for.
Another benefit to home ownership is that you are not subjected to the intrusion of a landlord. Generally no one can tell you what you can and can not do with the property. If something is broken you are not at the whim of someone else as to when, how, or why it should be fixed. A landlord can decide to sell the property and put you out into the street. As a homeowner, you have the security of knowing that you have a place to live, as long as you continue to meet your mortgage and tax obligations.
Generally, it is easier to find a place to rent than it is to find a place to buy. If you are renting, you will more than likely put up with some minor annoyances. If something gets broken, you donít have to concern yourself with the cost involved to fix it. If the quality of the repair is not to your standard it doesnít matter as much if this is not your property.
As a renter you do not have your money tied up in a property. This allows you to have more flexibility in deciding where you live and how long you want to stay there. You can keep your excess cash for other things that come up in your life since you donít have to budget for housing repairs and expenses. This allows you to have your money in more areas of investment such as 401k, IRA, stocks, bonds, or a small business. This allows you better diversification of your money.
Renting will also be cheaper then buying if you will be moving soon. It costs money to buy and sell a house. There are real estate commissions, title fees, loan fees, reports and inspections. A home must appreciate approximately 15% just to recoup these costs. If you plan on moving within a three-year period it may make more financial sense to rent than to own.
Finally, donít make the decision based on someone elseís expectations. This is a decision that only you can make, and only after careful consideration.