Renting Vs Buying: Advantages and Disadvantages

Buying a home is a very big investment and not one that should be taken lightly. It is important to consider both the benefits and drawbacks to owning your own home, while comparing these to your personal situation. This will help you decide whether it is better to rent or purchase a home.

Renting a Home or Apartment

When you rent a home or an apartment, the monthly payment is paid to a landlord. Often, this will be the actual owner of the home, but property management companies are also popular. In either case, the rent is due at a set point each month and is paid to the property owner. As a result, money paid is not an expense each month, which comes out of pocket for the renter.

One of the major advantages of renting is that as a renter, you are not responsible for repairs or any other maintenance, aside from things like mowing the lawn or perhaps changing the filters. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t responsible for damage, but it does mean that the renter is not responsible for repairing things like the roof or the air conditioner. So, if the plumbing burst in the middle of the night, you can simply call up the landlord and by law they must come and repair the problem.

Another advantage of renting a home is that there is usually little tying the person to the home. So, for example, if they decide they want to move to a new city or a new area, they can do so with few repercussions. In the worst case scenario, assuming there is no damage to the apartment, the renter will loose their deposit, but this only happens if they break their lease.

However, there are several downsides to being a renter. One of the biggest ones is a general lack of privacy. This is because the home owner or rental property can come into your house basically whenever they want, providing they follow a few basic rules.

Also, while not having to worry about repairing things, such as a broken washer, can be nice, you can not actually modify the home as you please. Sometimes the homeowner may allow a renter to paint the walls, but this is usually it and requires the approval of the landlord.

Another disadvantage is that since a renter does not own the home, living in the home is a privilege. A disagreement with the landlord can lead to an eviction and if the landlord dies or sells the home, there is no way to guarantee you will be able to stay after the lease expires.

Buying a Home

Buying a home has a number of advantages and can be a wonderful experience, but since most people don’t have the money for the home upfront, they must take out a rather large loan called a mortgage. This means that even though you technically own the home, the bank has a lien on it and if you miss too many payments, you risk loosing the home and being foreclosed upon.

The level of debt can be a little overwhelming, but since part of each months payment is going towards the principal of the loan, you are not paying out of pocket in the same way as when you rent a home.

Of course, during the first 5 to 8 years, most of the payment is going towards the interest of the loan. During the first few years, it is common for less than 10% of each payment to actually go towards the principal of the loan. However, with that said, you are not simply throwing your money away in the same way as when renting, as ultimately, assuming the home does not loose value, some of the money paid towards a mortgage is retained.

One of the other main advantages to buying a home is the many tax credits available to a homeowner. From the first time home buyers tax credit, which is a credit of up to $8,000 that does not need to be paid back, to simply being able to claim all of your interest and maintenance costs on your taxes, there are many tax benefits to owning a home as opposed to renting.

Another advantage of owning a home is that you can do pretty much whatever you like to it. This means if you don’t like the carpet, you can simply tear it up and put down a wood floor. If you want to make the living room bigger, you can knock down a wall and don’t have to ask anyones permission.

Of course, the flip side to this is that if something breaks, it will be the homeowners responsibility to fix the problem. So, there is no one to call when the plumbing breaks at 3AM, well except perhaps for a plumber.

It is also not possible to simply walk away from a home if you do not like the area or your neighbors. It will either be necessary to find someone to buy the home or damage your credit rating. This can mean much less freedom, as most people become tied to their mortgage.

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