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Examing Whether You Should Rent or Own

Posted on 4th Apr 2011 by Mark Stern
New house

Both owning and renting can have their advantages. The better choice for you depends on your circumstances. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when you weigh the benefits of renting against the benefits of owning, both from a financial and a personal perspective.


Financial considerations

Knowing where homeownership fits into your larger financial plan is important. Ask yourself: Would I need to make changes in my budget to buy a home? Would it mean stretching to my financial limits? Would owning allow me to still maintain my other savings goals (such as contribution to my retirement fund) and stay prepared for potential costly home emergencies such as a new roof or heating/cooling system?


Renting has both advantages and disadvantages. For example, renting may provide you with more leftover cash each month, if your rent is less than a mortgage payment, and renters get to call the landlord to fix the leaky faucet. On the other hand, renters may not be allowed to make any changes to their living space and are often subjected to rent increases over time.


Owning a home may provide you with income tax benefits for repairs etc (though it’s important to check with your accountant to see how owning would impact your personal situation). Owning a home also offers you the chance to increase your personal wealth as you pay off your mortgage over time and build what is known as equity. Equity is the difference between the Market Value of the home and the outstanding balance of the mortgage on the home. Of course, home values can rise or fall over time, so building equity is not guaranteed. And there are significant upfront costs associated with buying, including dowpayment and closing costs.


Personal preferences

Owning a home is a financial commitment that requires you to plan ahead, reflecting on where your life is headed and what you want to accomplish along the way. Ask yourself: What additional financial goals would I like to accomplish as I make payments on a mortgage? What’s more important to me: the oppourtunity to build equity over time or to perhaps have more cash available now?


Renting usually makes it easier to relocate (to pursue a job opportunity, for example). And if your rent is less than a mortgage payment, renting could allow you to contribute more toward specific savings goals, such as retirement, college, future travel, investments or even putting away money for a down payment for a home in the future.


Owning a home could make sense for you if you want to put your monthly living costs toward something you could eventually pay off and own outright. In addition, it also makes sense if you plan to stay in the area and prefer to feel settled in a home that reflects your personal tastes.


Only you can decide whether owning a home fits your life. We can help you if you think it does.

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