If you’re a millennial then you’ve given some thought about whether you want to rent or buy the next place you live in. With so much to consider it’s hard to break it all down. After all, questions like, "when is a good time for me?" or, "can I even afford a home?" are difficult to answer. Here are some of the factors you should consider. Take a look at the most important factors when considering an old but always relevant question, “should I rent or should I buy?”
Rent – When it comes to expenses, or the cost of living outside of your monthly payment, renting comes up as a winner. If your dishwasher breaks your landlord picks up the tab. Likewise for any other appliance, plumbing, or structural issue. That means you don’t have to keep emergency funds for the unexpected when it comes to your living situation. It’s also time consuming and it costs a lot of money to organize labor, shop for the best deal, and hire professionals to perform maintenance.
Buy – Expenses come up constantly when dealing with a home purchase, from start to finish. Let’s revisit the scenario when your dishwasher breaks. You’ll have to pay a pretty penny to replace it. That’s why experts say it is imperative to keep emergency funds on the ready. There will always be an expense that comes up monthly, yearly, or once a decade. On the flip side, when something fails that will usually prompt you to make an improvement. These add up and equate to a higher value for your home.
Let’s talk a little bit more about savings when it comes to renting versus buying a home. There are savings either way but there are very different reasons. When buying it gets complicated and we’ll show you that there is a lot to consider.
Rent – We already discussed savings in the form of your landlord picks up the tab when something requires attention. The fact is that renting is usually cheaper for the first few years (we’ll show you an example in a moment). To add to that, if your rent is less than a potential mortgage payment then you can use that extra cash for savings, investments, or retirement.
Buy – A moment ago we mentioned a word that is very important to home owners: “equity.” Every payment that you make, whether it’s your down payment or your monthly mortgage payment, you’re increasing your equity in your home. When making your monthly payment some of it is going toward the principle balance of your mortgage. This means you’re gaining equity every month you live in your home. There’s just no comparison for this advantage when put up against renting.
When looking back on life with the luxury of hindsight we realize that timing plays a crucial role in our decision making. Since hindsight doesn’t play a role in the decisions we make in the present, let’s look at what considerations do play a role if you’re asking, is this the right time to buy?
Rent – For the person who is unsure where they’ll live in the next few years, renting is probably your best option. Renting affords you the advantage of being able to uproot and move to an area closer to your job. It’s easier to move to a different part of the country, or maybe a fun location like near the beach or downtown in a major city. Rent payments and housing prices are high in these areas. You might not want to stick around too long.
Buy – The cost of purchasing a home and moving is an important factor to consider when thinking about how long you plan on living in your home. It’s expensive to sell a home. Real Estate agents make a lot of money off the sale of your home. That’s money that you’re paying. Not to mention that if you buy again you’ll have to pay the closing costs for that transaction. The flip side is that you will probably make a profit off of selling your home. The point is the more buying and selling you do, whether you’re savvy or not, the more fees you’ll pay.
Rent vs Buy
With all of these variables in mind, it’s time to create some examples that will show you when it’s worth it to rent versus buy. We’ll use the tools we provided such as the rent versus buy tool above, and then plug in the median home prices weighed against average rent costs of three major cities. These figures are provided by trulia.com or Zillow.com, and rentjungle.com respectively. Plug in your own rent amount and the value of the home you have your eye on. You’ll find out for yourself if you can afford it and how long it will take for you to save money.
You probably get the sense that asking if renting or buying is better, the answer is hard to come by. And that’s actually a good place to start. This is a decision that requires a lot of care. Weighing all the pros and cons is important, consider the right factors.