Rent or Buy? How to Make the Right Decision
With persistently low interest rates and desirable prices—even bargains in some locations—there are a lot of great reasons to buy a home in the current real estate market. However, deciding whether to buy or rent is a serious, often complicated decision, which should be weighed carefully.
A professional, experienced real estate agent can help guide you through a rent vs. buy analysis based on your particular circumstances. In the meantime, the American Bankers Association (ABA) suggests asking yourself the following critical questions when considering a home purchase:
- How much can you afford to put down? Can you afford the monthly payment? A mortgage down payment of 5 – 20 percent of the selling price is typical, but can vary depending on the situation. The size of the down payment will impact the monthly cost. Assess your financial health, determine how large of a down payment you can afford and consider if you can then afford the monthly cost.
- What other debt do you have? Consider all of your current and expected financial obligations and ensure you are able to make all the payments. Aim to keep total rent or mortgage payments plus other credit obligations less than 35 – 40 percent of your monthly income. If you can’t keep payments below that, you may be better off renting for a while or searching for a more affordable home.
- What is my credit score? Can I qualify for a good interest rate? A high credit score indicates strong creditworthiness, which qualifies you for better interest rates on a mortgage. Maxing out your credit lines and paying bills late will lower your credit score, and the impact of a credit score on interest rates can be significant. For instance, a borrower with a score of 760 could pay nearly 2 percentage points less in interest than someone with a score of 620. That equates to over $3,000 less in mortgage payments each year. If your credit score is low, you may want to delay buying a home and take steps to raise your score.
- How much will taxes, monthly maintenance or other fees cost? Owning a home means you will have to pay real estate taxes and other costs like insurance and maintenance. However, owning a home can bring tax savings at the end of the year. Remember to factor in these costs and incentives. Renters have neither these costs nor tax advantages.
- How many years will I stay here? Generally, the longer you plan to live someplace, the more it makes sense to buy. Over time, you can build equity in your house. For renters, there is no equity or investment value. Yet, renters have greater flexibility to move as they don’t have to worry about finding new tenants.
If it turns out that it may be better to wait a bit before buying a home, keep in close contact with your real estate agent, who can help you make the move to homeownership as soon as possible.
As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I have a wealth of real estate and homeownership information that may be of help to you. Feel free to contact me any time to learn more about this important information, and be sure to forward this article on to any friends or family that may be interested as well.