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Buying a Home vs. Renting: When It’s Better to Buy

The decision to buy or rent a home is complex. Factors such as age, lifestyle, income, real estate investment goals and interests rates should all play a role in helping you decide if buying a home is the right move for you or if you’re better off renting.

4 Instances When It’s Better to Buy Than Rent:

1. Buy when you’re ready to fix your monthly payment.

One of the biggest benefits of buying right now is to take advantage of still favorable interests rates. Though the Federal Reserve has decided to raise its key interest rate, according to Realtor.com, the average mortgage rate is still just above 4%. By 2019 or 2020, rates could climb to 6%.

Conversely, the cost of renting is going up fast, having doubled in 17 years in SoCal—a rate twice as fast as the overall cost of living. In fact, high demand and low vacancy rates have continued to push rents to all-time highs in Orange County. Jane Lewis, property management director for Seven Gables Real Estate, estimates that rent increases average 5 percent to 7 percent during renewals. And commercial real estate data firm Reis Inc. indicates that rents in the region have gone up on a year-over-year basis for at least 22 consecutive quarters, without any signs of slowing.

2. Buy when you want significant tax breaks.

When weighing the decision to buy versus rent a home, it’s important to know the entire financial picture of your potential purchase. When running a cost/savings analysis, don’t miss the significant tax breaks of home ownership that can help lower your IRS bill at the end of the year.

The interest paid on a home loan,  “points” paid to the bank for a favorable rate, energy credits, state property taxes and casualty losses are all important deductions that homeowners can claim. For many, this means a net-zero impact on a homeowners monthly expenditures when they move from renting to owning. Conversely, most renters claim zero deductions on their taxes.

To help you crunch these numbers and other important variables in your buying vs. renting cost analysis, this New York Times buy or rent calculator is a handy tool.

3. Buy when you want to get serious about building wealth.

Buying a home is the highest and best use of your money if you’re trying to accumulate wealth, and many experts agree.

“‘I am a true believer that you save every penny and you buy your first house. That is still the fastest path to wealth in this country,’” stated real estate mogul Sean Conlon to CNBC.

For many people, buying a home is their first important step in financial planning, with the home’s equity becoming a “savings account,” and in Southern California, the upside potential is huge. Regional home prices have been on an upward trajectory for 62 straight months. Those worried about an eventual correction should heed Brea-based Real Data Strategies President Pat Veling’s advice, “Anybody who buys houses today will probably be fine. It still boils down to buy what you can afford.” In other words, treat your home as a buy-and-hold asset, and you’re on a steady path to building wealth.

4. Buy when you never want to get another 30-day notice.

Life is unpredictable, but owning a home empowers you to take control of your living situation like renting can’t. Have you outgrown your living situation or gone through a major life change? Are you tired of being beholden to a landlord’s whims? Maybe you just want to be able to decorate how you want and really make your house a home? These are all legitimate reasons to consider buying vs. renting.

While you can’t always put a dollar value on these psychosocial factors, it’s undeniable that buying a home is a way to be more in control of your destiny and take charge of your life.