How do you choose between buying and renting?
Home ownership offers tax benefits as well as the freedom to make decisions about your home. An advantage of renting is not worrying about maintenance and other financial obligations associated with owning property.
There also are a number of economic considerations. Unlike renters, home owners who secure a fixed-rate loan can lock in their monthly housing costs and make prudent investment plans knowing these expenses will not increase substantially.
Home ownership is a highly leveraged investment that can yield substantial profit on a nominal front-end investment. However, such returns depend on home-price appreciation.
“For some people, owning a home is a great feeling,”
“It does, however, have a price. Besides the maintenance headache, the amount of after-tax money paid to the lender is usually greater than the amount of money otherwise paid in rent,”
The authors recommend that prospective buyers spend a few months investigating a community. Many people make the mistake of buying in the wrong area.
“Just because certain properties are high-priced doesn’t necessarily mean they have some inherent advantage,” the authors write. “One property may cost more than another today, but will it still be worth more down the line?”
A comparative market analysis and an appraisal are the standard methods for determining a home’s value. Your real estate agent will be happy to provide a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on comparable sales in the neighborhood. Be sure you get listing prices of current homes on the market as well as those that have sold. You also can research this yourself by checking on recent sales in public records. Be sure that you are researching properties that are similar in size, construction and location. This information is not only available at your local recorder’s or assessor’s office but also through private companies and on the Internet.
An appraisal, which generally costs $200 to $300 to perform, is a certified appraiser’s opinion of the value of a home at any given time. Appraisers review numerous factors including recent comparable sales, location, square footage and construction quality.