Why It Makes Sense to Own Your Own Home
You’ve probably seen lots of financial arguments about why you should own your own home rather than rent. This includes budgeting (no rent increases) and the tax savings you’ll most likely have. Here are some reasons you probably haven’t heard.
Freedom to pursue other goals in life once the major goal of home ownership is achieved: Strange as it sounds, many of my first-time buyers have told me that once they bought the house, other things in their life started to fall into place. It’s as if not owning took so much of their mental energy that other goals were not worked on until that big goal was reached. So buy a home and get on with your life.
A greater sense of belonging to the community: Once you own a home, you feel more attached to the city in which you live. You’re more interested in what happens in town, to the roads, schools, and shopping areas. Some people even become involved in local politics, which you seldom see a renter do.
A commitment to something, a sense of stability: Home ownership is an anchor, something that cannot be pulled out from under you. You’ll never get a notice that you have to move. You’re kids will never have to change schools. It gives you freedom to plan years ahead.
You can change things, a feeling of being in control: It’s your home. You can add to it, remodel it, change the landscaping, do whatever projects you want. You have a feeling of being in control of something in your life. At work we don’t always have control of what happens, but your home is your castle that you have dominion over. You can see what you’re building take shape before your eyes.
More control over the children than in an apartment complex: In a neighborhood, kids usually play in the yards or go to friend’s houses a few doors away. My clients have told me that in an apartment complex they never knew where the kids were. They could be in any of hundreds of apartments, doing who knows what. In a home you get to know the neighbors and watch out for each other’s kids.
Children do better in school and feel more secure: This one surprised me, but buyers have reported to me that their kids calmed down in school after they bought a house. I don’t know why, but it seems to work that way. I remember a single mom watching her son play in the yard, making steps in the slope and building things. She didn’t have to tell him to leave everything alone, like she did at the apartment complex. I guess kids feel the same need for control we adults do.
Time and money saved by not going to the Laundromat: A small point, but if you have kids, you know the value of this one. You gain a whole evening a week when you buy a house! The wash gets done in between other things, or while you’re at work. What would you do with the extra evening you’ll have? How about going out for dessert with your spouse with all those quarters?
Why It Makes Sense to Rent Your Home
It seems that buying a home is more costly – and time demanding – that renting a home. However, if you can comfortably afford to do so, and you have plans to stay at your location for a while, buying a home has significant advantages.
Financially, owning a home is often promoted as a better choice than renting. Currently, there are significant federal and state tax breaks … homeowners can claim deductions for real estate property taxes and for the interest paid on their mortgage each year. In addition, long term homeowners build equity both by paying down their mortgage and when their home appreciates in value.
Many savvy home buyers increase their equity more quickly by buying homes that need cosmetic improvements (such as decorating) rather than structural renovation (walls need moving). These minor improvements can significantly increase the value of a home over a relatively short period of time with a modest investment.
However, there are times when renting a home is the more sound choice to make. For example, if you are only going to be at your place for a couple of years, it makes no sense to buy the home, as this would be the more expensive endeavor. If you buy or sell in a short period of time, you may actually lose equity.
Also, renting also makes good sense if you’ve identified the general area in which you want to live but haven’t made a final decision as to the specific neighborhood. If you don’t know whether you’ll feel comfortable in a particular neighborhood, it may be better to rent a house or an apartment there for 6 months or a year, to get more comfortable with it.