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Rent vs. own: Which is right for you?

Brandpoint
Rent vs. own:  Which is right for you?
Photo: Brandpoint

If you’re thinking of buying your first home, you’ve probably wrestled with the decision to rent or own your home — and for good reason. Owning a home is a big commitment. With it comes a lot of responsibility and a long-term financial relationship.

The improving housing market. Since the depths of the recession, the housing market has made a heroic comeback. That can be attributed to a number of factors, including a drop in unemployment and a stronger economy. But as the housing market has recovered, it has experienced some growing pains. With a sharp increase in demand, housing supplies are being strained. This means, among other things, that prices are going up.

Making the decision. With rental and sales markets heading toward record highs, the decision falls back to what is best for you. Specifically, what is financially feasible. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median gross rent paid from 2012 to 2016 was $949 monthly. Compare that with the median selected monthly owner costs with a mortgage, which was $1,491 over the same time period. For renters, it is wise to carry renter’s insurance. Some landlords will also charge maintenance and other fees. Utility costs will also vary depending on the quality of the structure and materials used as well as size of the rental space. Homeowners will pay property taxes, insurance and an estimated $500 annually for routine maintenance, according to the Census Bureau.

The benefits of homeownership. At a glance, it may seem that renting is the lower cost option. But there are certain benefits to homeownership that may offset the additional regular costs. According to the Tax Policy Center, the primary benefit to owning a home is imputed rental income. Simply put, making a monthly payment on a home that you own is like paying rent to yourself.

— Brandpoint