Should You Buy or Rent?
One of the biggest decisions anyone could make in their life is whether to rent a home or to purchase one. Conventional wisdom has always told us that it’s better to buy, as well as Real Estate Agents who claim that it’s "always a good time to buy".
As most of us have realized by now, Realtors can be dead wrong. After all, they’re salespeople, and it’s in their interest to tell
people to buy. If you were so unfortunate as to have believed these Agents and bought a home in 2005, your home is probably
worth much less than what you paid.
First, a Brief Summary:
1. Owning a home requires maintenance, property taxes, and insurance. Renting is clearly cheaper on a monthly basis.
2. Owning a home gives you a tax break on the interest paid, as well as the property tax. If you’re in a high income bracket, you get more relief from this. Whether it’s enough to offset the savings from renting, can be a complex equation.
3. Owning a home is a big commitment, and there is much less flexibility in regards to moving. Having to sell your home or rent it out every time you move, can be physically and financially draining.
Let’s explore the primary variables in the Rent vs. Buy scenario:
Which Lifestyle Fits you better...Renter or Homeowner?
If you’re planning on moving around every 5 years or less, it may not be a good idea to purchase a home. There are transaction fees associated with selling a home. Usually 5-6% go to Real Estate Agents, as well as other expenses. It’s a bit risky to try and time the market, and you could end up taking a hit if your particular market does not perform well. If you’re planning on having flexibility without the risk, renting is in your favor.
If you Invest, Renting could be better.
If you’re an investor who plans on making a sizeable return on your money, then renting may also play in your favor, but it depends on what kind of returns you’re aiming for. Let’s say for example, if you could make a 10% annualized return on your money, it may work out better to invest it elsewhere rather than putting it on a down payment, along with paying maintenance costs, property tax, and mortgage payments.
If you aren’t an active investor seeking sizeable returns (greater than home interest rates), then buying a home will eventually work in your favor, in the long run. Not only will you eventually pay down your home, but you can have "fixed" payments, while rent prices are guaranteed to inflate over time.
How are Rent Prices when compared to Mortgage Payments?
This is probably the single most important aspect of the rent/buy scenario. If rent prices are substantially lower than
what your mortgage payment would be if you purchased the home, you may be better off renting and investing the rest of the money
elsewhere, or even just saving it until prices are more in tune with rents. Fundamentally speaking, renting should be slightly
cheaper than owning a home.
Are Interest Rates TOO LOW to Buy?
If interest rates are low, you will obviously have a lower mortgage payment. However, keep in mind that when interest rates rise again, home prices can fall drastically. If this happens and you’re prepared with cash, you can take advantage of those lower prices by plopping down the cash and borrowing less. You’ll also have lower property taxes, since the home is purchased at the lower price.
The Myth About Home Appreciation
Homes go up in value, but so does everything else. Living in a home will not make you rich. If your home even doubles in value, you
can expect the homes around you to have doubled, as well as the prices of everything else.
Some other variables to consider are: Fees of home purchase, home insurance costs, property tax rate, maintenance costs, rental deposit,
and estimation of rent price increases. Don't forget to factor in rent price inflation.