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Deciding Whether to Rent or to Buy

By Jessica Hajjar

In the past, it might have been considered general knowledge that is is always smarter to buy property than to rent. However, currently there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both buying and renting that must be examined.

Home Upkeep and Improvement

When you rent a home or apartment, most of the general repairs will be taken care of by the owner, which will save you both time and money. However, you are limited in the ways in which you can personalize your space. You will not be able to renovate or remodel your home the way you wish unless you obtain the permission of your landlord. Even simple changes such as painting your bedroom walls may not be within you control.

Homeowners have total control over the improvements they make to their property. If they want to build an outdoor patio or install new kitchen appliances they are free to do so. Although they increase the value of a home, these improvements can be extremely costly. Furthermore, when owning a house there may be unforeseen maintenance problems that can cost the homeowners thousands, such as a broken water heater or furnace.

Taxes

No property taxes are associated with renting, which can save a lot of money each month. However, there is also no tax advantage to renting, while home owners may be able to receive tax break or advantages.

Moving

When the lease is up, a renter is free to move easily and without hassle. There is no financial tie holding you in one spot. The homeowner usually has to sell or lease their property before they are able to move. This will take time and will ultimately result in extra stress. A homeowner may also have to wait for favorable market conditions, which could take months or even years.

Equity

The biggest advantage to buying a house is that it is an investment. Although recently this has not been the case, typically the value of a house rises over time: when the value of your house rises above what you bought it for, you have equity. Depending on how much of your mortgage you have paid off, with increased equity you may be able to borrow more money to do things like upgrade or renovate your home.

The Bottom Line

No matter what your situation is, if you choose to rent or to buy a house you are making a serious decision. As a renter you may not have to maintain your property, but you will never be able to treat the property the way you want to. If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you can treat your property however you would like, but you have the responsibility to maintain it yourself. You are also subject to the whims of the market. One day your house could be worth $400,000, and the next day it could be worth $300,000: you could get lucky though and that $400,000 home could one day end up being worth millions.

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