In some areas of the country, you can save thousands of dollars a year just by making the decision of renting or buying.
Never follow the advice of "it's always better to own". THAT'S NOT TRUE!! And, many of us found that out in 2008 or after.
So what do you need to know to just if it is right for YOU.
Here are some key "tests" to judge for yourself.
- Check Your Local Economy - Some places are hot markets right now, and it makes it so tempting to buy a home "before they are all gone". It's like a fire sale, but don't get sucked into the crowd mentality. Get a calculator, and figure it out for yourself. For example, let's say homes are selling for $100,000 in your area - that's somewhere about a $500 monthly payment at current interest rates. If similar homes rent for $800-$900 a month - buying a home would save your $300-$400 a month. Conversely, if rents are lower than what you would pay for a mortgage, and you really have no other compelling reason to buy...renting might be better for you.
- Check Your Lifestyle - Your lifestyle is a good predictor of renting vs. buying. If you travel or move around a lot, you may not be ready for that dream house on a half acre. You may best be served by renting now and saving for when you are ready for your dream house.
- Check Your Tolerance Level - Do you have the tolerance to manage pest control, taxes, HOAs, lawn maintenance, plumbing and other household repairs? Consider your spouse's tolerance too. The great thing about renting is you make one call to the landlord or management company. You don't have to call service providers for quotes and hope they show up. Many people fall in love with the idea of buying a house, but rarely calculate the additional emotional and irritation costs of home ownership.
- Check Your Additional Home Costs - The follow up of #3 are the financial costs to those home issues you have to tolerate. You will have to add a few hundred dollars a month to pay for plumbing, HOA, pest, lawn, upgrade costs to a home. You don't want to have to put these on a credit card because you can't afford them. Depending on your rental, some or all of these may be paid for.
- Check Your Deduction - Mortgage interest and property taxes are tax deductible ONLY if you itemize on your federal return. Also, keep in mind, if you have to pay the alternative minimum tax (AMT), you can't take itemized deductions for real estate taxes.