Choosing to either buy or rent a home is a significant decision that affects your financial situation as well as your way of life.
Real estate ownership is a long-term investment that will likely generate equity and provide tax benefits. Renting has its own set of benefits, including a lack of responsibility and freedom. However, People typically believe that buying a home rather than renting is the most cost-effective alternative.
Should You Rent or Buy?
The topic of renting vs. buying is not something that most individuals ask and answer only once. This is a complex issue with many moving components, and things change: your down payment savings grow, you explore moving to a more expensive or less expensive region, and you’re curious what would happen if you spend less or more on a home.
There are other options, such as a rent-to-own house, where you start off renting and eventually own. However, whatever decision you make, it’s critical that it’s based on your financial status and lifestyle.
These are some things you may already be aware of or have considered:
- Where do you want to live?
- How long do you think you’ll live there
- Your down payment
- The home’s purchase price
- The term of your mortgage (usually 30 years)
When you rent an apartment, you have the option to move anytime your lease expires. However, you may be forced to relocate soon if your landlord decides to sell the property or renovate your apartment complex into a condominium. They could easily raise the rent to a level that you are unable to pay.
The most common misunderstanding about renting is that you’re “wasting money” every month. This isn’t correct. You’ll need a place to live, which will cost you money. While monthly rent payments do not contribute to equity growth, ownership costs do.
Each time your lease is up for renewal, you face an unknown rent rise as a renter (unless your apartment is rent-controlled). You could also expect some challenges to arise when you have particular needs, like a one-bedroom apartment with all utilities included or if you want to reside in a popular community.
Furthermore, if you rent, your landlord will handle all repairs and upkeep, though they may not be completed as quickly or as effectively as you would like.
Apart from your personal situation, there are some concrete advantages and disadvantages to renting versus purchasing that will apply in most cases.
Pros and Cons When Renting
- The landlord is responsible for the maintenance
- Allows you to move around freely
- Doesn’t require high closing costs
- There is no change in monthly housing costs.
- Allows you to try out different living spaces
- You don’t build any equity
- Limited ability to customize your living space
- Your rent may increase over time
- Your landlord may sell or decide to cease renting
- You have a limited sense of home stability/permanence
Homeownership brings potential advantages, such as belonging to a community, a sense of stability, and pride of ownership. However, it is not good for the nomadic or restless types of people.
The earliest illiquid asset was real estate. If the home market is down, you might not be able to sell when you want to. Even if it’s up, selling incurs substantial transaction expenses. Changing your mind about where you wish to live is far more expensive when you buy.
Even though the monthly mortgage payment is equivalent to or less than the monthly rent, the total cost of owning is often higher than the total cost of renting.
As a homeowner, you’ll have to pay for several things that you wouldn’t have to pay as a renter:
- Property taxes
- Trash pickup
- Pest control
- Tree trimming
- Water and sewer service
- Repairs and maintenance
- Pool cleaning (if you have one)
- Homeowners insurance
- In some areas, lender-required flood insurance
- In some areas, lender-required earthquake insurance
Mortgage interest is perhaps the most excessive expense, as it can account for nearly all of your monthly payments in the early years of a long-term loan.
When you tally up all of these costs, you might find that renting and putting the money you would have spent on a home in a retirement account is a superior financial decision.
Pros and Cons When Buying
- You build equity over time
- Your home’s value may grow
- You may be eligible for tax benefits
- You have unlimited freedom to design your living space
- You have a sense of home stability and permanence
- Less flexibility to move
- The home value may drop
- Closing costs can be prohibitive
- Recent tax laws may limit tax benefits
- Maintenance and repair responsibilities, which take time and effort