Turns out, buying a home is a huge decision. (Just kidding, obviously we all know that). But what we don’t think about that often is that by renting, we are also actively deciding not to buy. Whether we realize it or not, we are actively having to make the decision over and over again about whether to buy or rent. Because of this, we thought it would be helpful to give a quick rundown of things you should think about when it comes to renting vs. buying.
Renting – The initial payment to move into a rental can still get steep, with many places asking for first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit. However, even with the somewhat steep upfront cost, there are no more unexpected costs.
Buying – With buying, you have to put down a down payment, and because typically the better the down payment, the better rate on your mortgage you will get – it makes sense to put as much down as you can afford. You also have to factor in closing costs, as well.
There are many online resources that help decipher the exact money breakdown of renting vs. buying depending on pricing, mortgage rate, etc., like NerdWallet’s calculator.
Renting – When renting, there are typically very limited options in actual changes you can make. Aside from painting the walls (which you usually have to paint back before moving out), or hanging things, there are just not many changes you can make to a property that isn’t technically yours. However, on the other hand, if something breaks and a repair is needed that is not directly related to damage by you, it is usually on the rental property to pay for and fix.
Buying – With buying, you can essentially customize in any way you would like (although for big or permanent changes you have to think about how it will affect re-sell value). And opposite of rentals again, repairs and fixing costs and management are all up to you. (Although home warranties and insurance can help … but again, that’s another cost).
Renting – With renting, you are only locked in by a lease, and even that is less of a financial commitment that owning. Most rental properties let you out of your lease if you show proof of getting transferred by your job, and between subleasing or paying the “breaking your lease” penalty – you can likely get out of your lease for a couple months of rent at most.
Buying – Owning a home, in terms of last minute, “deciding to walk away” is not as flexible by any means. If you end up needing to move last minute, there is always the option to try and make up for the mortgage by renting one way or another, or try to sell quickly – however, there is much more time and effort that goes into the process than simply breaking or putting in notice for a lease. The one flexibility that owning does help with though is that if you play your cards right (and there is some luck involved), you could end up making enough money off of your home that you are much more flexible in the future because of a financial cushion.
Renting – Renting is always a risk in many ways. You don’t know how the owner of the property will deal with certain situations, rent could go up unexpectedly, you could be asked to move, etc. However, at the end of the day – you are not tied to the property, and the only money that is tied up with the property is your rent.
Buying – With ownership, there are much greater potential rewards, as well as losses. When buying a home, you don’t know what the neighborhood will do over the next few years, or how exactly your property value could go up or down as time goes on. You also have much more money tied up in the ownership of the house itself in the current time of ownership.
It isn’t just about the money. It’s about so much more, and every factor of your lifestyle goes into the decision. It’s about how exactly you want to invest your money, how flexible you would like your living situation to be, both the customization of your home and geographically where you would like to live, and how soon. More than anything it’s about comfort level and preference. Whether renting or buying, we hope the place you live feels like home!