Why Rent when you can Buy?

Are you unsure about becoming a HOMEOWNER?

Do you wonder about TAX INCENTIVES?

Are you worried about whether hombuying is a good INVESTMENT?

Buying a first home can be an intimidating process. But the first step is deciding if:

  • I want to own a home;
  • I can afford a home;
  • owning a home makes sense for me financially and emotionally.

If you are still struggling with those decisions, here are some facts that might help you take that first step towards becoming a homeowner.


Rents Increase Over Time

Over the past ten years, the cost of rental housing in the U.S. has increased an average of 3.5% per year. If that trend continues, that means an apartment or home renting for $1,000 per month will cost more than $1,300 a month in ten years. If you rent the same home for ten years, the total amount you would pay for rent will equal $140,777!



Owning Can Lead to Tax Savings

None of that $140,777 is returned to you, either through savings or as an investment. Homeownership, on the other hand, often has tax advantages over renting a home, and those advantages can help you save money. For many homeowners, part of the monthly mortgage payment “comes back to you” in tax savings.


An Example of Ownership

You purchase a home that costs $200,000. Your down payment is $10,000 (plus closing costs – expenses incurred to actually process the transaction). You finance the balance with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 5.5% interest. your monthly payments (not including utilities, maintenance, insurance, etc.) are:



Owning your home reduces your federal income tax bill by $268 a month. In addition, as you pay down your mortgage loan, your equity – the wealth you have in your home – increases. If home prices rise, the equity you have in your home increases, too.


Buyers Usually Come Out Ahead

Given that price growth has recently deviated from its usual pattern of increase, the table below considers four different price growth scenarios, including a loss. You may be surprised to see that the homeowner still comes out ahead of the renter even if there is a small decline in the home’s value over the next year. Favorable interest rates and lower prices have ushered in some of the best affordability conditions in a generation.


Homeownership Builds Wealth for Households

The Federal Reserve Board estimates that homeowners’ net worth has ranged between 31 and 46 times more than that of renters in the years 1998 to 2007. In 2007, the median net worth for homeowners was $234,000 compared to $5,100 for renters. Even though that difference will surely narrow as a result of house price declines since 2007, homeowners will likely still have substantially greater net worth than renters. How do you build up your net worth? As a homeowner, you build wealth in two ways: through paying down the principle on your mortgage and through those “appreciating returns” on your home.

We’ve already seen how your $200,000 home could be worth $286,948 in ten years. In addition, you are paying down the principal on your mortgage. Remember that $200,000 you borrowed at 5.5% over 30 years — that debt amount is decreasing every month and every year as you make payments.


After the first year, you now only owe $187,441 on a home that is worth $200,000. As home price growth returns to a normal level the amount of wealth that you net from appreciation will increase. At the same time, mortgage payments reduce your outstanding debt. As your debt decreases and the home value increases, you accumulate wealth from the value of your home. In addition, over this ten-year period, you will have a significantly lower after-tax payment for housing. Each year as your home appreciates and you continue to pay down your mortgage debt, you increase your own net worth.


Why Buy Now?

You may wonder whether it’s worthwhile to wait to purchase your home until prices are at their lowest. Prices are not the only factor that should drive your decision. Currently, interest rates are near generational lows that greatly improve the affordability of homes. Further, on the annual cost table, you can see that even if home prices decline, the possible tax savings of owning a home can lead to a lower cost for the buyer, not the renter. Finally, and most importantly, when you have made the decision to commit to homeownership because you are ready, market conditions are a secondary concern. In fact, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that four in ten first-time buyers purchased a home because the buyer was ready to make the commitment to homeownership.


Homeownership – it’s NOT just about Money

The “numbers tell the story” examples should ease your mind about the financial aspects of becoming a homeowner. But there are other, non-financial benefits to homeownership that may partially explain the fact that buyers buy when they are ready. Several research studies indicate that homeownership adds to the value of communities, has positive effects on children, and even contributes to increased voter participation rates.


Homeownership: The American Dream

More than two thirds of American households own their home. They know the benefits of homeownership, from the accumulation of home equity, other financial benefits, and the pride of owning a place of their own. They also had to take that first step of deciding “I’m ready to be a homeowner.” REALTORS® are real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and who abide by the Association’s strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. They can help guide you to first-time homebuyer programs in your area, as well as assist you in searching for and buying your home.


Content courtesy of the National Association of REALTORS®.
Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.