“To rent or to buy, that is the question.” Okay, so I’ve taken some liberties with the dialogue in Hamlet. However, many people question the decision to rent or buy daily.
There are some definite reasons you may choose to rent rather than buy. There are also compelling reasons to buy your own home. We’ll go through the reasons for doing each before we take a look at our case study on Rich and Sara, who chose to buy their own home.
Renting a home can be an attractive option for some people. From maintenance to tax savings and the ability to move often, renting can provide an appealing alternative to settling down to a mortgage.
If you rent, you more than likely aren’t responsible for maintenance and upkeep. When the water heater breaks, your landlord calls someone to come and fix it. Depending on the arrangement, your landlord may even provide for both snow removal and lawn maintenance services.
Not having to deal with maintenance can be a big draw because you’ll save a certain amount of money and frustration.
Your landlord may pay you back for materials and labor if you do the maintenance yourself. They might even be pleased with certain upgrades like a fresh coat of paint (provided you use neutral colors).
When you own property, you’re responsible for the taxes and insurance on that property. That means you’re definitely spending a little bit extra on the monthly payment. These costs can fluctuate when your property value is reassessed. How often this happens depends on where you’re located.
The flip side to this is that you can deduct your state and local property taxes as well as mortgage interest from your federal taxes.
Freedom of Movement
If you’re the type of person who floats on the wind and sticks around in one place for short periods, it may not make sense to get a mortgage. Although renting can be more expensive, it does give you the opportunity to move with greater flexibility.
On the other hand, as you’ll see later, if you plan on sticking around, it’s more cost-effective to buy.
Now that we’ve gone over the pros of renting, let’s talk about why it makes sense for a lot of people to buy a house.
You Can Afford It
Real estate prices are different in every community. However, renting is often more expensive than you might think. This can be particularly true if you have a young and growing family like Rich and Sara’s. If you do the math on renting a house, it often makes a lot more sense to just buy.
If you’re considering taking the leap and buying a house, it’s a really good time to do so while rates are low. A lower rate factors into making your mortgage payment affordable.
You Own It
Another big reason people prefer buying a house instead of renting is that once your mortgage term is over, you own the house. You don’t have to make a monthly payment to a landlord without building up any equity.
Home values are also going up, which means you gain more equity faster. Equity is important because you can use it later on to pay for home improvements if you choose.
Once you realize that your monthly payment will eventually go away, that’s when you can really start to plan for the future.
Putting Down Roots
So far we’ve talked about all the logical reasons you might buy a house, but there’s also just something appealing about watching the kids play in the backyard and live in the community where you work.
Owning a house provides a base in a way that renting an apartment just can’t. Many people move every time their lease is up in order to find something more affordable.
With a home, your payment won’t necessarily change over the life of the term. Even if you’re in an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), you have the option to refi into a fixed rate before the adjustable part kicks in.
Your home is also a place you have the real ability to make your own. In an apartment, you can’t really change the layout or switch where the TV is because you can’t move the outlet.
In contrast, when you first walk into your new home, it’s a blank canvas. You get to picture where the recliner is going to be. You can imagine everyone sitting around the dining room table along with a nice royal blue on the walls. Maybe there’s a workshop space. In the back, there’s a deck where everybody in the neighborhood knows you grill the best ribs in the city.
In your own home, you have flexibility to make your vision happen. It’s your little space within the rest of the community.
Rich and Sara did end up taking the step and buying a home. In doing so, they saw housing could actually be affordable. With that realization came a number of others.