Previously, I laid out a few situations where it makes more sense to rent rather than buy a home, but what about the other way around? This time, I’m looking at a few scenarios where buying, ultimately, is the smarter choice. Read on below so that you can get a better idea of which option makes more sense for you.
If you want to put down roots
There’s no denying that buying a house is a commitment. When you’re ready to buy, you should be interested in putting down some roots, at least for the foreseeable future. In general, this means that you’re happy with the area in which you live – or have a good idea of an area you’d like to move to – you have a stable source of income, and you’re not planning on substantially growing your family anytime soon.
As far as how long you need to plan in staying in your home in order for buying to make sense. Conventional wisdom says that five years is the magic number and it turns out that there may be data to back it up. According to research by Betterment, it takes four years to break even on the upfront costs of buying a home. With that in mind, if you want to truly take advantage of some of the savings, you should plan on staying put for at least five years.
If it makes financial sense
That said, financial factors should also play a decision in whether you end up buying or renting. For the most part, paying a mortgage tends to be cheaper than paying rent, especially when you take into account the you can write off at least a portion of your mortgage interest at tax time.
However, there is the upfront cost to consider. In general, you need to be able to save a down payment worth 3%-5% of the home’s purchase price, closing costs worth another 1%-2% of the price, a few months of cash reserves, plus enough money to move and furnish your new place.
If you’re in a good spot, savings-wise, buying may be a smarter idea. If you still need to save up a little more, it may be worth it to rent somewhere where you have the ability to put more money in the bank.
If you feel ready to take on the added responsibility
Simply put, buying a home is a big responsibility. After all, there’s no more landlord to call when the toilet breaks or the pipes freeze. Once you’re the homeowner, the responsibility of dealing with those problems falls squarely on your shoulders.
If you feel ready to take those tasks on, especially in exchange for the freedom to renovate and decorate your home however you wish, then there’s a good chance you’re ready to take the leap into homeownership. If you’d rather have someone else who you can call to deal with those issues, renting may be a better choice for the time being.