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To Rent or To Buy: Picking the Best Option for You

By Malcolm Rivers

Renting Pros

Renting is useful and cost effective for residents for whom long term investment is not feasible or desirable. Renters can sign leases for variable amounts of time, usually between several months and one year, which provides them lodging at affordable prices for limited amounts of time. Students and others who recognize that they're less likely to be living in particular areas for considerable amounts of time will appreciate the flexibility of rental agreements and their limited scheduling and regular renegotiation. Rental residences also allow for residents to live with different roommates, some strangers, some friends, which can benefit renters and make for dynamic and enjoyable experiences. Renting can also decrease the amount of logistical considerations that residents must engage because of the levels of responsibility given to the owner or proprietor of the property versus the renter.

Renting Cons

Renting experiences can vary wildly. Standards for different rentals depend very much on the landlord and establishing the quality of the rental situation into which you're entering can be difficult. Renting can also be expensive and though the logistics are frequently handled by a landlord, renters can end up footing the bill for minor repairs or even be forced to forfeit expensive deposits due to a variety of factors. Rentals also result in environments shared with strangers into which acrimony can creep due to disagreements about conditions in the rental environment.

Owning Pros

Owning a home can be a valuable investment. A well thought out purchase can yield a home that increases its value considerably over time, making it into a possible cornerstone of your financial life. A home is a castle and, to a much higher degree than seen in a rental, you can design and control it. Want to knock out a wall and create a larger room? Go for it. Feel like building a garage? Have at it. Aside from zoning laws and safety and building requirements, the only thing limiting your creativity as a homeowner is your imagination. For families and those looking forward to future families, a home can add a sense of permanence and connection. Homes can be passed down throughout generations and family homes can cement bonds and create memories.

Owning cons

Ownership, like other responsibilities, can be a double edged sword. Ownership can give you control but it also means that you are responsible for outcomes. Damage or unforeseen maintenance costs that may have been absorbed by landlords in rental agreements is now the problem of the homeowner exclusively. Financing can be difficult to obtain for mortgage down payments and closing costs, for many the process is so expensive and difficult as to be prohibitive. Costs for down payments, mortgage, insurance and the like can pile up, creating a complex maze of debt and financial management which, aside from being highly expensive, can be highly difficult to navigate and keep track of. More than anything else, for many potential buyers, the issue of real estate and its relationship to financing is a hindrance. The housing market has come to the fore lately for its role in the economic downturn of the last few years and many are understandably wary of lenders making questionable decisions that can leave buyers in the proverbial lurch. These reservations are well founded and the issue of constant refinancing to pile up excessive debt for longer and longer periods is real and profound.

Choosing to buy or rent a house is a choice that is going to boil down to individual circumstances for most. Your age, income levels, familial realities and other factors will determine what option will be the best fit for you and your family. Use what you've read here to help you consider which option to pick for your next move.

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