Is it better to buy or rent a home? I have a few things to consider when it comes to that question.

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Is it smarter to buy a home or rent in the market right now? The answer to that question will always depend on your situation. So, today, I’ll give you a couple things to think about as you’re trying to make that decision.

A recent Fed report said that long-term homeowners have as much as a 36x higher net worth than long-term renters. The important thing to know is that if you put yourself in the right situation when buying a house for long-term residence, it’s usually a good decision. On the flip side of that, there are times when you absolutely should not be a buyer and when renting is a much better option.

The first thing you need to consider before doing anything else is whether or not you are financially ready. A preliminary call with a lender can help you figure out what your credit looks like and how your current debts may affect your mortgage qualification. At the lender’s recommendation, you may want to work on paying down debts or making some changes to your credit situation before starting the home buying process. If that means renting for a couple of years while you work through that, then that might ultimately be a good financial decision for you.

Next, are you in an overall stable financial position? Do you have an emergency fund that enables you to take care of certain issues that might pop up without warning? The great thing about renting is that the landlord takes on that responsibility if the issue is with the property itself. With renting, you don’t have the long-term gain that you would with owning a home, but you also don’t have the short-term pain of having to pay for the repair of an appliance or roof for example.

When you feel you’re ready, talk to a lender to get pre-approved. A great lender is there to help you make good financial decisions. They can tell you about the state of your credit, whether your income is large enough to make purchasing affordable, and other critical specifics about your finances.

Another benefit that comes from speaking with a lender is that they can answer your questions about down payments. We’ve got a huge military presence locally and the VA loan allows a lot of people purchasing in our area to purchase without the requirement of a down payment. If you aren’t a veteran or an active service member, your lender can discuss different loan options with you that offer flexible down payment amounts; you won’t necessarily need to put 20% down. With cash-on-hand being a barrier to homeownership for many, this is an important call to make.

Finally, consider how long you plan to live in that home. You might be in a great financial position now, with qualifications for a good loan and down payment, but if you’re only going to live there for a couple years, you might want to consider your long-term goal before moving forward. During that short period, the market may not have increased enough to cover the expenses to sell. You may be buying with the plan to rent the home and hold it as an investment. This can be a great decision as long as you have spoken with your agent about what’s involved with being a landlord and how to set things up to be successful.

If you have any questions about buying or renting or would like to review your current situation, feel free to give us a call. We’d love to help you through the process.