Owning your own home is a classic American dream and part of American culture. Right now, more Americans own homes than ever before. Purchasing a home is a considerable financial investment, and does not guarantee that you will save money in the short or long run. The main considerations when deciding between renting or buying a home include your lifestyle, your ability to secure a mortgage and your financial situation.
As part of a lifestyle, rentals fit people’s time restraints. Renting an apartment or home requires fewer maintenance or upkeep requirements compared to owning a home. Renting apartments give people the opportunity to live in trendy, fashionable neighborhoods that may not be affordable when purchasing a home. Renting also allows people flexibility when a job or lifestyle dictates a move.
Not everyone can secure a mortgage. Despite the many types of mortgages and federal programs, some people simply do not have the needed credit rating or have too much monthly debt to qualify for a mortgage or to get the loan to afford what they want.
Buying a home does not guarantee equity or profit on the sale. Like all investments, a home carries a level of risk. Because there are fees and costs with securing a mortgage, you will pay thousands of dollars up front for your home. Depending on your mortgage and payments it can take years to build enough equity to compensate that expense. If you need to sell in a few years, you may never recover those initial costs and face the expense of sales commissions with the sale of your home. If you move around much or anticipate needing to in the near future you will want to seriously consider the expense of short-term ownership of a home.
Many factors affect the property value of homes, communities and cities. Take the following questions into consideration:
- Does the community you live in have one primary company as an employer?
- Does your community have one major industry creating most of your community’s jobs?
- Can a down turn in that company or industry shift the demand for housing where you live?
- Are the demographics in your community changing?
- Are fewer people moving into your community?
- Is the average income in your community declining?
- What is the likelihood of crime rising or of there being a lack of appropriate funding for schools or city services?
These factors among others affect the property values of entire communities or cities. If you are renting you can simply leave a changing area and you may even find your rent decreasing. If you own a home you may find the property decreased in selling value.
You should also consider what will happen to the entire housing market over time. If the economy is doing well homes tend to appreciate in value but in an economic downturn home values tend to stagnate. When you rent, you have more flexibility in reacting to major trends in the economy. You also gain tax benefits by deducting certain home costs from your personal taxes.
Whether it is best to buy or to rent depends on each situation. If you weigh the lifestyle and personal changes and risks you can make an educated choice and make the decision that is best for you.