Why Rent When You Can Buy?

Although it varies from city to city, the cost of buying a home is only a little more than renting in some areas. 
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August 12 2010 - Irving
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because prices are going to drop.

You can see the reasons and my local phoenix statistics for why this will happen here on a prior zillow thread.
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August 12 2010
Profile picture for BeccaBoom
Well, we're renting because our credit isn't good enough.  We both have steady jobs with decent income though, and we're working to pay our debts.  It's very frustrating!  We're tired of paying our landlord!
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August 12 2010
Profile picture for workabee
Prices are going down. Why buy when you can rent for less?
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August 12 2010
BeccaBoom, have you looked into seller financed deals? At a minimum, it is an option available to you.

All things equal, patient buyers will likely be rewarded in this economy. 
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August 12 2010
Profile picture for BeccaBoom
Hi John,  Thanks for the advice.  We've not looked into seller financed homes, but I'm not sure where to begin with that - Is there a reputable site that would list them?  Thanks again!
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August 12 2010
Profile picture for the_country_hick
If I bought in 2007 I would have lost a lot of money on the deal. Renting would have saved me a lot of money.

WHY do you think it is any different now in 2010? Prices are still dropping and only fools buy a product that is rapidly losing value although they could buy it cheaper in a few months.
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August 13 2010
Actually if you are looking for a seller financed home, if they are listed with a Realtor they will show up on MLS.

Check with a Realtor in your area. And before buying a seller financed home, become educated on the positive and negative aspects of seller financing. They are a different beast than a typical bank financed purchase.
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August 13 2010
Why rent?
If you are comparing the cost of a mortgage  to the cost of rent - you are only looking at part of the picture.

There is more to home ownerhsip than just paying the mortgage - maintenance, upkeep and repairs also factor in. A tenant can call the super to fix a leaky faucet or broken air conditioner - a home owner can't do that. New furnaces or roofs cost a lot. Lawn care and snow removal can be time consuming. A buyer has to be ready for the responsiblity of home ownership.

Buying a home without having  a cushion for  unexpected costs, or the income to handle the increased financial stress will  put a weak buyer on very thin financial ice, regardless of where the prices may be going.
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August 14 2010
Debbie Rose is absolutely right.  A buyer should have at least 5 - 10 % of the home value in the bank as a cusion to cover unexpected costs.  

Fixing the roof, repainting the exterior, replacing the furnace, rehabilitating the air conditioning system and repairing a leaking basement -- for example -- each project costing $2,400 to $2,800, for a total of nearly $13,000.  Expect to have one or two major repairs/costs every year. 

And don't forget your homeowners insurance premiums!
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August 16 2010
Why Buy?
No one can predict where this market has taken us.  Some markets, such as Southern California, is starting to see small spikes in sales, and prices are starting to stabilize.  I'm not in this market, but I follow it closely.
I can say this....we won't know when the bottom has hit until we are already on our way back up.  In the meantime, most of us live in the monthly payments, not in the actual purchase price of the home.  Interest rates are lower than they've ever been, so monthly payments are very comparable to rent amounts.  Also, i'm not sure anyone mentioned the tax benefits of homeownership, something you don't get when renting, and this saves many people hundreds, sometimes thousands a year off their taxes.
My final noted will be on home repairs.  Though I do believe it to be a good practice to save money, or to make sure you have a "buffer" in case of maintenance issues or repairs on your home.....this is why we pay Homeowner's Insurance.  Major repairs like roof leaks, water damage, or busted furnaces will most likely be taken care of through this, and the only thing that you will need to fork out is your deductable.  Most of my clients have a $500 deductable, some have $1000.
I hope this helps.  :)
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August 23 2010
I'd like to see the "homeowner's insurance policy" that would pay for a "busted" furnace or leaking roof. The policy might pay for damage done due to a leaking roof, but they won't replace the roof (unless it was damaged, say, due to a tree falling on it during a  storm)..or replace the furnace

If you are confusing this with a Home Warranty policy, such as American Home Shield, or some other such company, even they don't pay for leaking roofs.
One needs to read the fine print.

Bottom line is - no one should buy a home and use the last bit of their savings to do so - it isn't prudent to do that even if you have multiple creative policies. There isn't one financial planner that would advise doing that, either - even factoring in any possible tax benefits......even Suze Orman advises having at least 3 months of expenses as (liquid)  savings in the bank. Some advisors suggest having 6 months!

My point is  - you need to look at the whole picture.... not just a comparison of rent versus mortgage payments.
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August 23 2010
Profile picture for sunnyview
Mr. Comey, if your homeowners covers leaking roofs and dead HVAC's for a $500 deductible, I will pay you for the name of your agent.

Otherwise you're blowing smoke and lying to people about the true cost of homeownership. Maybe you are type of agent that says whatever they need to say to close the deal and then walks away before the new buyers life financially blows up when regular maintenance comes calling. If that is the case, I have no respect for that. If not, I look forward to your clarification.
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August 23 2010
Homeownership is more than the investment aspect or the ongoing maintenance costs; to many, its the emotional attachment many people develop when its their own place versus a rental.  It can give the home owner a feeling of permanence, especially when raising a family.  Its an individual choice based on a lot of factors and what works best for you and your family.
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August 23 2010
Profile picture for sunnyview
I disagree. It is a choice that should be based on numbers first. Emotional attachments should not come before being able to pay basic expenses of owning like maintenance. If a family needs to own a house to feel a sense of permanence, then I would argue that their extra money would be better spend on therapy than on buying a house.
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August 23 2010
sunnyview - I agree with you

home ownership might be the "American dream" , but for many it has unfortunately become a nightmare

A buyer needs to be financially sound before taking on the responsibility of home ownership. If that means working within a budget, saving.... and delaying a purchase, so be it. Buying based on emotions is not what I would advise.
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August 23 2010
Profile picture for hpvanc
Scott,

"We won't know when the bottom has hit until we are already on our way back up"  I take this is a current NAR propaganda, it seems that a lot of Realtors are using that line in the forums.  "In the meantime, most of us live in the monthly payments, not in the actual purchase price of the home," so what do you propose they do if they have a change of circumstance and need to sell and move for some reason, if they are underwater, it severely limits their option?  Is that not a contingency that everyone needs to plan for?  Also what kind of homeowners insurance pays for maintenance cost, which the scenarios you have listed fall under.  A home warranty may cover replacement cost of a broken HVAC system, but will any kind of policy cover a worn out roof and the damage it causes?

Fran,

"Its the emotional attachment many people develop,"
thank you for pointing out the reason I dislike sales people in general, their ability to take this little fact and try to manipulate you into something you know you should not do, because they will find it emotionally pleasing.  I try to as much as humanly possible remove emotion from any decision involving money, and strongly encourage everyone I know to do the same thing. 
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August 23 2010
I just came from a closing for a rental which made me aware of some interesting perspectives.

The new renters are going through a short sale in another state in order to move to NJ due to a job transfer.

They are a middle age couple with grown children.  Their monthly costs to maintain their home is a burden the husband is very eager to give up.  The house is much bigger than the one they are moving to and it is quite an adjustment to make but he is ready for it.

The wife on the other hand has formed an attachment to their home of 10 years that is extremely difficult to give up.

They are moving to a much smaller single family home (had to rent a single family home with a basement because he needs a workshop for his work).

The closing almost fell through because they realized that they would have to renew their lease every year and there was no guarantee of it being renewed each year.  This concept was devastating to them.

Possibly due to a language barrier ( I know I had communicated to them that this was a year to year lease) I don't think it really sunk in until we were at the closing what this meant.

Although the husband wanted to be done with home ownership and the responsibilities it entails, he is having a very difficult time with the idea of their living situation being uncertain from year to year.

  Pretty much everything that was said in this thread were brought up and discussed- the pros and cons of renting vs owning.

I personally had never thought about what it is like to be at the mercy of a landlord and a year to year tenancy and the psychological impact it can have on the tenants.  At the beginning of the closing, they were both saying they never wanted to own a house again.  By the end, they had completely changed their mind and realized that the security of home ownership (assuming financial security obviously) far outweighed the advantages of renting.  They know they have to rent for the next several years but will then be looking into buying again.

This is obviously a personal decision and things need to be weighed according to people's individual circumstances but it is just interesting that I came across this thread after this experience with new renters today.
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August 23 2010
Joan - I understand how your client feels, as worrying about whether you will be forced to move in a year or two can be troublesome and disconcerting.
However, many peope are renting in rental complexes, so the worry of what will be next year isn't a worry (other than the concern about rents going up - but so do property taxes!)

A large number  of people in, say Manhattan,or other large cities,  rent, and it's just a way of life. My son and daugher-in-law rent in  NYC, and buying there isn't an option for them,  due to the high prices (they will not be in a positon to pay over 1 million dollars for a 3 bedroom apt). When they are "ready to buy", they will most likely move to the suburbs ( and mommy will help by giving up her commission .. haha).

It comes down (imo) to being financially ready to take on the responsibility..and it IS a responsibility to own a home. I feel it's my responsiblity to make sure every buyer I work with knows that.
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August 23 2010
Profile picture for jdsdaddy
I personally had never thought about what it is like to be at the mercy of a landlord and a year to year tenancy and the psychological impact it can have on the tenants.

This shows how completely brainwashed and dumbed down many homeowners have become.  Isn't this couple at the mercy of their "landlord", the bank, and having to do a short sale in order to move, and losing whatever down payment they made?  So now they are agonizing over having to rent and the remote prospect that they can get kicked out only at the end of the lease, whereby the worst thing that happens is that they have to hire movers and find another rental?  Are people really this stupid?

Ask any long term renter, and you'll find that most of the responsible ones are treated well by their responsible landlords.  Trying to portray renting as a horrifying experience where the poor tenants are prey for the mean ol' landlord is just plain silly.
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August 23 2010
jdsdaddy,
There's nothing stupid about these people.  I was simply using their personal experience to highlight a different perspective.

I understand that renting is a lifestyle that is just fine and dandy for most people and that being in apartment complexes is a totally different experience than a single family home.

"Trying to portray renting as a horrifying experience where the poor tenants are prey for the mean ol' landlord is just plain silly"

I wasn't trying to portray renting as a horrifying experience at all. The landlord happens to be a very nice lady who loves her house.  I never said anything about her being mean. 
 But for you to minimize the impact of that uncertainty of what will happen on a year to year basis on people who haven't had to face that for many years is somewhat narrow minded thinking, in my opinion.
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August 23 2010
Profile picture for jdsdaddy
There's nothing stupid about these people.

What's worse?  Losing your house, your down payment and your good credit or the mere possibility of having to move at the end of the lease?  Evidently this couple believes the latter, and so soon after going through the former.  I stand by my statement.

But for you to minimize the impact of that uncertainty of what will happen on a year to year basis on people who haven't had to face that for many years is somewhat narrow minded thinking, in my opinion.

Seriously?  The prospect of having to move, and only after a full year and with proper notice, mind you, is cause for so much distress?  I worry more about what I'm going to have for dinner.  But that's just how I roll, because I live in California and the prospect of earthquakes consumes my thoughts.
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August 23 2010

I will try to keep this simple.

These people are having to go through a short sale because they need to move in order to keep his job.  They aren't losing their house due to their inability to pay.  Their house is worth less than what they owe at a time that they have to sell.
This is due to circumstances beyond their control.

He has been driving back and forth between CT and NJ, CT and PA and CT and NY, literally surviving on 2-4 hours of sleep because he has been working his a** off at the same time trying to find a place to live.
The day they came to see the house this couple made a 6 hour round trip to see it.

So for you to be judging people, especially a middle age couple who never expected to be in this situation, and acting as if its no big deal if they have to go searching for another place to live in a year is beyond insensitive.

When, as in these people's case, the choice to move is not theirs but their landlord's after the lease is up, it is extremely stressful.
If moving is no big deal to you, great.
For you to think it shouldn't be a big deal to anybody if they are forced to move due to circumstances beyond their control once again, shows a total lack of empathy.

All I was trying to do was show a perspective regarding renting I hadn't thought of before.  Why you have difficulty accepting that there may be a perspective different than yours, and somehow thinking you have a right to judge somebody for having this perspective, I have no idea.

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August 23 2010
Joan:

Never heard of writing a longer lease? Say two or three years?

Also, lets compare your clients two stresses.
A. Going through a short sale, wrecked credit, maybe owing money on a deficiency, and having to drive hours to work due to owning an upside down home.
B. Maybe having to move at the end of a lease.

Are you serious? That is the most ridiculous notion of which one is a problem!
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August 23 2010
I'm not an idiot.  The landlord wasn't comfortable signing anything more than a 1 year lease. 
This was the only house in their price range that met all of their requirements.  There was not a lot to choose from.
I don't know why this concept is so difficult to understand but they are having to go through the stress of a short sale AND moving AND the insecurity of not knowing what will happen a year from now.
What the heck are you comparing?
Basically, it all sucks.



Sheesh.
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August 23 2010
Profile picture for Dunes....
People react to situations differently...Not all people are as Secure as others or react to stressful situations as well as others or reason as well as others..

Good Agents/People in my opinion understand that..

I've been in discussions/threads with Joan for over a year now and I know of no Agent or Non-Agent who is more open to other views, honest about her experiences or who has defended the right of Consumers to choose which option they feel is best for them..
FSBO/Flat Fee /Rent whatever..



I'm smart your clients are Stupid helps who and makes just what point?




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August 23 2010

On a positive note - this gentleman has a job................thanks to you, Joan, they will have a roof over their heads........and hopefully, the landlord will renew their lease next year!

Overall, what they are going through is unfortunate, and  a huge inconvenience, but they are much better off than many others out there.

I think your empathy and concern for them is commendable, and it was their good fortune to find you!
Caring, as you do, about your clients is a wonderful trait!

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August 23 2010
Profile picture for jdsdaddy

First off, I would like to make it clear that my intention was not to attack Joan or to diminish the care she is displaying for her clients.  I have read some of her other posts and respect much of what she writes.  What I find to be simply too absurd is that her clients, for whom home ownership turned out to be a financial disaster, now see it as being the answer to their problems.  What happens if there is another job transfer?  Wouldn't renting be their saving grace in that instance?

And they are hardly the only ones.  Thread after thread can be found on here created by people who have gone through the painful procedure of a short sale or foreclosure, yet are looking forward to buying again, and the sooner the better.  It's this brainwashing and dumbing down of which I speak.  It's inconceivable to these folks that renting might actually be the best way to go.  When will people realize that renting does not make them second class citizens, and that renting has just about as many advantages as owning?

I'm not that smart a guy.  I've admitted it before and I'll admit it now.  But if someone like me can take the time to learn about the true costs of home ownership and not just buy into the malarkey being spewn by most agents, why can't others, many of whom are much smarter than me?

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August 23 2010
I'm staying out of the fight, but hey BeccaBoom--- 2 things for you- 1) you can find owner financing homes through your real estate agents.  They are able to search financing terms on their local multiple listing service. 2) Did you just get a credit report & read online, etc or did you go sit down with a good lender that can tell you exactly what you need to do & help you get your credit report cleaned up so that you are ready for homeownership.  I would recommend talking to a few lenders to see if they can help you to get in position to take advantage of the super-low interest rates. Best of luck!

Beth
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August 23 2010
You're always paying a mortgage...either yours or your landlords. There are so many pros and cons to this questions, that only the people under said roof can truly know at that time what is and isn't best for them. Owning is a long term investment and you will always need a place to live, it's all abour facts and stats.

Have a BEAUTIFUL night.
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August 23 2010
Profile picture for sunnyview
I think I understand what Joan's clients may felt. Although I think that people need to put finances first before they decide to buy, as silly as it may be owning does give me a sense of personal stability over renting.

Part of this may be due to the fact that many of my past landlords have been very bad. Some past landlords have entered without permission or notice, they have remodeled the properties with me and my family in residence to the extent of getting a notice to cease from the health/fire department or have been very bad about basic maintenance. The lease did not give me any protection without going to housing court which was not used to seeing tenants who paid or had legitimate complaints.

Owning is not the ultimate, but I can say that I did not like being a renter overall. I did have one great landlord very professional, very reasonable. It was a pleasure to rent from her company. I think maybe my opinion of renting might be different if I had experienced more landlords like her. Maybe the lesson is to look for a good landlord before you take your time to decide whether or not to buy.
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August 24 2010
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