Deciding whether to rent or buy a home is one of the biggest financial (and life!) decisions that you can make. Everyone needs to weigh the pros and cons of renting vs. buying a home, and each person’s situation will be different. Here are just a few of the various factors to consider in renting vs. buying:
How long do you plan to live in the home?
If you’re planning on buying a home, general wisdom typically points to owning said home for at least 5-7 years for the investment to make financial sense. Generally, the longer you’re able to own your home, the better the investment, but this depends on several factors (appreciation, interest rates, etc.). If you have a long-term commitment to living in a particular city, then it may be easier to decide to buy a home, but if there is the possibility that you may need to move in just a couple of years, renting may make more sense for the time being. (You could also consider buying a home, living in it for a few years, and then keeping it as an investment property if you have to move. It all depends on your unique situation!)
What is the local rental market like? How much are rent prices increasing year over year in your city?
Depending on time and place, rental prices may be increasing at a rate that will make it much more appealing to lock in your living costs (i.e. buying a home) sooner than later. Failing to lock in housing costs may result in you being priced out of living in a particular city (as both a renter and homeowner).
What is happening in the “bigger picture”? How much are homes appreciating in your city of choice, and what are interest rates currently like?
This will vary from city to city, and you’ll want to make sure that you are making your real estate investment in a city with a healthy appreciation rate. However, it’s also important to look at the bigger picture—look at historic appreciation trends and analyze how different real estate investments have performed over time. What happened to the local market during the last recession, and how did it recover? Paying attention to interest rates can also play into whether or not you want to commit to a mortgage loan—when interest rates drop, it might be time to make your move!
Are you prepared for the responsibility of all that home ownership entails?
One of the benefits of renting is that you have far less responsibility—if there’s a leak in the roof, it’s on your landlord to fix it. When you own your home, it’s up to you to take care of all home maintenance, repairs, different types of insurance, etc. Of course, this also means that you have control over your home in most ways—you’re free to renovate and upgrade as you please!
These are just a few considerations to make when determining whether to buy or rent—everyone’s situation will be a bit different, and that’s when a trustworthy real estate professional can be a huge help. A skilled and knowledgeable real estate agent will not only be able to help you weigh each pro and con, but they will be able to equip you with the information you need to make the right decision for you.
You can also check out this dynamic calculator from The New York Times to assist you in beginning your analysis.