Should I rent or buy my home?

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Small home with rent and buy think bubbles

Among the biggest financial decisions you’ll make in your life is whether you should rent or buy a home. When you’re ready to become a homeowner for the first time, there are a couple of things you should evaluate before shopping around for homes.

What are your values right now?

A student living close to their university with plans to move back to their hometown has different goals than a young couple trying to start a family near their parents. If your near future looks like you might be moving around a lot for work or other reasons, it will likely make more sense to rent. If your goal is to stick around town a while, buying might make a better investment.

How are your finances looking?

Of course buying a house requires quite a good chunk of change. To get the best mortgage options, it helps to have a robust credit score. You’ll get lower interest rates, which means you’ll pay less over the course of the loan.

If your credit score or savings account aren’t where you want them to be, you can keep renting. Use that time to build up your finances. Saving all you can and getting a handle on your money will help you down the line.

Calculate the cost of renting vs. buying

Sitting down and crunching the numbers will help you determine if you should buy or rent. Of course, your location and the state of the housing market there will affect your buying power.

Most people like being able to buy because it helps them build equity on their home. With a mortgage, your monthly payment goes into something you own. While renting, your rent money goes to your landlord.

Using a tool like Zillow’s Rent vs. Buy calculator can give you a better visual representation of how buying or renting will compare over several years.

Get a good idea of your financial situation

While you may be able to afford the down payment for a house right now, there are a ton of costs that can add up quickly. You have to remember closing costs, inspections, property taxes, and general house upkeep.

When you’re renting your landlord is in charge of paying for maintenance. If an appliance breaks down, or you get a leak in your roof, it’s the landlord’s job to fix it. When you’re the home owner, you will be the one to pay for all of it.

One perk of owning a home is writing off mortgage payments on your taxes. You can also opt for a fixed-rate mortgage. That way your monthly payments won’t go up.

When you’re renting, your monthly payments can go up, sometimes without much notice.

The final decision is up to you

If you want to buy a house, but are not in quite the right financial situation then it’s perfectly fine to wait. You can also take that time to build credit, save up more money, and become more financially stable before starting the loan application process.

Melissa Aguilar

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