Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-Lately the $64 question for many people is whether to rent or buy a home. I think by now everyone knows that, as a result of the collapse in home prices and dirt-cheap interest rates, buying a home is now more affordable than ever, but for a lot of people there are still doubts or concerns that need to be addressed before making the decision whether or not to buy. Many of these issues stem around financing including; how much down payment will be necessary, what can I afford, etc. The American’s Banker Association (ABA)came out with five questions every potential buyer should ask when deciding to buy or rent a home that, along with the helpful online calculators they offer, I think may be very helpful:

Five questions every potential buyer should ask when deciding whether to rent or buy a home:

1. How much can you afford to put down? Can you afford the monthly payment?
A mortgage down payment of 5 to 20 percent of the selling price is typical, but can vary depending on the situation. The size of the down payment will impact the monthly cost. Assess your financial health, determine how large of a down payment you can afford and consider if you can then afford the monthly cost.

2. What other debt do you have?
Consider all of your current and expected financial obligations and ensure you are able to make all the payments. Aim to keep total rent or mortgage payments plus other credit obligations fewer than 35 to 40 percent of your monthly income. If you can’t keep payments below that, you may be better off renting for a while or searching for a more affordable home.

3. What is my credit score? Can I qualify for a good interest rate?
A high credit score indicates strong creditworthiness, which qualifies you for better interest rates on a mortgage. Maxing out your credit lines and paying bills late will lower your credit score, and the impact of a credit score on interest rates can be significant. For instance, a borrower with a score of 760 could pay nearly 2 percentage points less in interest than someone with a score of 620. That equates to over $3,000 less in mortgage payments each year. If your credit score is low, you may want to delay buying a home and take steps to raise your score. Learn how to improve your credit at

4. How much will taxes, monthly maintenance or other fees cost?
Owning a home means you will have to pay real estate taxes and other costs like insurance and maintenance. However, owning a home can bring tax savings at the end of the year. Remember to factor in these costs and incentives. Renters have neither these costs, nor tax advantages.

5. How many years will I stay here?
Generally, the longer you plan to live someplace, the more it makes sense to buy. Over time, you can build equity in your house where renters do not. Yet, renters have greater flexibility to move as they don’t have to worry about finding new tenants.

Here is another way to look at your options:

Advantages Disadvantages
Property can build equity Responsible for maintenance



Sense of stability and security Must pay property taxes
Freedom to change décor May not sell quickly
Tax advantages Could lose value
Minimal maintenance cost Can’t build equity



Easier to move No tax benefits
Good for short-term Usually can’t change décor
No down payment Possible rent increases

Helpful Online Calculators from the ABA:


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