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Renting vs. Buying

The age old question.



Trying to decide if you should rent or buy? You’re not the only one. This question has been around for a long time. Both options have upsides and drawbacks, but the answer ultimately depends on you – your long-term plans, finances, and the area you want to live in. I definitely can’t tell you which option is better than the other, but I can help you understand what you should consider when making your decision.


BUYING

Buying definitely has its pros and cons, like all things in life. It just depends how you look at it. Buying a home builds equity, and if your house appreciates over the time you own it, you can even make a return, which is pretty great. My husband and I’s first home increased 131% in just over six years. This isn’t always the case, and we managed to get into the market before prices increased, but it definitely shows, that profit can be made if you’re smart about where you buy. Owning instead of renting also means that you’re your own landlord, so you can make changes as you please. Don’t like the flooring in the bathroom? You can replace it. Want to update the kitchen? You can do that too. You no longer need the permission of someone. This was a huge draw for my husband and I, who were eager to make a home our own. And even better, because you’re the owner, any updates you make will help you in the long run and increase your equity. Best of all, the payments you make each month pay off YOUR mortgage, instead of when you rent and you’re paying off your LANDLORD’s mortgage.


But all this freedom and flexibility definitely comes with extra responsibility. Yes, it’s great that you can make changes on your own, but it also means that you are responsible for all the maintenance of the property (cutting the lawn, cleaning the gutters, shoveling the driveway and sidewalks). You’re also on the hook if something breaks. Less than a week after we moved into our first house, our washer and dryer bit the bullet. I called my mom to tell her, and in that moment we both realized that there was no landlord to call and have it fixed, I was the landlord. So buying a new washer and dryer became my problem and cost, and no one else’s. The cost of a home, also goes beyond your mortgage, you’ll also have ongoing costs like property taxes, utilities (if you don’t already pay them when renting), maintenance costs (simple upkeep) or major repairs, like furnace, windows, etc.


Summary: Freedom and equity come with responsibility and costs.


RENTING


Renting also has both sides of the argument. You have a single, stable payment each month and don’t have to worry about the cost of repairs, maintenance and any major replacements while you’re living there. Washer breaks? Call the landlord. Toilet seems to be leaking? Call the landlord. You have a place to live, without a great deal of responsibility, and that can give you peace of mind. And because you’re not locked into a five year mortgage, and only have to stay for the length of rental agreement (ranging from month to month, or a year – depending on what you’ve negotiated), you have the ability to move when you need. When you own a home, and have a mortgage, moving around isn’t as easy. The downfall is that each month, your rent goes towards paying off someone else’s mortgage and at the end of your lease, you walk away without gaining anything. All the money you spent on rent is now gone, and you haven’t built any equity.


Summary:No responsibility and a nomad lifestyle comes with no equity.


THINGS TO CONSIDER

Now, we could go back and forth – rent, buy, rent, buy, but in the end, you have to decide what works best for you and your situation. There isn’t a right or wrong answer.

Some things you should consider when you are trying to decide to rent or buy:


How long do you plan on living in the area?

  • Are you in it for the long haul, or are you planning on moving in the near future? If you aren’t planning to stick around, then renting is a better choice for you. You’ll have the ability to move without all the hassle that comes with selling a house. If you are ready to settle in, now may be the time to buy and set down roots. You’ll be able to get in and build some equity

The cost of housing in your area

  • Housing prices have been crazy these days, and so has rent. Your decision to continue to rent, may be solely based on the fact that homes in your area aren’t affordable to buy. If you think you’d like to buy, you may have to look outside of your current area where home prices might be a little lower.

Financial responsibility

  • Are you prepared to take on the financial responsibility of being a home owner? A mortgage isn’t the only cost associated with owning a home. Insurance, taxes and utilities are some of the other costs you need to consider. Are you prepared for these additional costs?

KNOW WHERE YOU STAND

Here’s when to rent instead of buy:

  • You don’t know what your long-term plans are, and you aren’t ready to settle down

  • You can’t afford to carry the costs of owning a home – taxes, insurance, etc.

  • You are currently carrying a lot of debt – this will make it hard to get approval for a mortgage

And when to buy instead of rent:

  • You’re ready to settle down

  • You are financially ready and prepared for the extra responsibilities that come with owning a home

  • You are prepared to make sacrifices – i.e. Not go on a vacation this year because you need to replace the furnace, or get new appliances

Now it’s time to bust out that yellow legal pad and make your own pros and cons! Best of luck in your decision!

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