Why RENT when you can BUY?

Are you unsure about becoming a homeowner?

Thinking that you can’t afford to buy a home?

Are you worried about whether home buying is a good investment?

Buying a first home can be an intimidating process. But the first step to making those first decisions: I want to own my own home; I can afford to won my own home; owning my own home makes sense for me financially and emotionally. If you are still struggling with those first decisions, here are some facts that might help you make that first step towards becoming a homeowner.


Over the last ten years, the cost of rental housing in the U.S. has increased an average of 3 percent per year. That means that an apartment or home renting for $750 per month will cost more than $978 a month in ten years. If you rent the same home for ten years, the total amount you would pay for rent will equal $103,000!

(avg. increase 3% per year)
1 $750.00 $ 9,000.00
2 $772.50 $ 9,270.00
3 $795.70 $ 9,548.00
4 $819.60 $ 9,835.00
5 $844.20 $10,130.00
6 $869.40 $10,433.00
7 $895.50 $10,746.00
8 $922.50 $11,069.00
9 $950.00 $11,401.00
10 $978.60 $11,743.00

Total rent paid over ten years = $103,175.00

Tax advantages of owning a home result in Savings

None of that $103,175 paid in rent is returned to you, either through savings or as an investment. Homeownership, on the other hand, has tax advantages over renting a home, and those advantages can help you save money. Unlike your monthly rent, part of your monthly mortgage payment “comes back to you” in tax savings. Here is an example:

You purchase a home that costs $110,000. Your down payment is $10,000 (plus closing costs – expenses incurred to actually process the transaction). You finance the balance with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 6.5 percent interest. Your monthly payments (not including utilities, maintenance, insurance, etc.) are:

Monthly mortgage and tax payments:

Mortgage $632
Property Tax (@1.25% tax rate[1]) $115
Total Monthly Payment $747

Tax savings per month (assuming a 30% income tax bracket)

Mortgage interest tax deduction $161
Tax deduction for property tax $34
Total monthly tax savings $195
Total monthly cost after tax savings $552

You actually save $195 a month by owning your own home. On a yearly basis, the savings are even more dramatic:

  Homeowner Renter
Annual mortgage/rental payment $7,584 $9,000
Real estate taxes 1,380 0
Mortgage interest deduction -1,940 0
Tax deduction for property taxes -480 0
Mortgage principal accumulation -1,116 0
Appreciation -4,950 0
TOTAL ANNUAL COST $  550 $9,000

Homeownership is a Good Investment

For the majority of Americans, their home is their largest financial asset and a major player in their investment portfolio. It’s a good thing, too, since stock market value has declined since 1998, while home price appreciation has increased. The National Association of Realtors estimates that home value rises, on average, by 4.5% per year. That’s a steady return on investment; one’s own home is a much less volatile asset than stocks, bonds or mutual funds.

As an example, let’s look again at that $110,000 home. Unlike your rental unit, your home should appreciate over time. Assuming a 4.5% appreciation rate, your home will be worth $114,950 in the second year of ownership, $120,123 in the third year of owning it, etc. After ten years, your $110,000 home will be worth $163,470. Not only do you earn a rate of return on your original purchase price, but you also get a return on any subsequent appreciation.

Homeownership Builds Wealth for Households

The Federal Reserve Board estimates that homeowners have a net worth almost 36 times more than that of renters. In 2001, the median net worth for homeowners was $171,700 compared to $4,800 for renters. How do you build up your net worth? Through those “appreciating returns” on your home.

We’ve already seen how your $110,000 home is worth $163,470 in ten years. In addition, you are paying down the principal on your mortgage. Remember that $100,000 you borrowed at 6.5% over 30 years, that debt amount is decreasing every month and every year.

After the first you, you now only owe $98,786 on a home that is worth $114,950. You have “netted” a $4,950 increase in the value of your home, plus $1,116 a year that previously you owed as part of your mortgage debt. As your debt decreases and the home value increases, you accumulate wealth from the value of your home. In addition, over this ten-year period, you will have a significantly lower after-tax payment for housing. Each year as your home appreciates and you continue to pay down your mortgage debt, you increase your own net worth.

Homeownership – It's NOT Just About the $ Money $

The “numbers tell the story” should ease your mind about the financial aspects of becoming a homeowner. But there are other, less monetary, benefits to homeownership. Several research studies indicate homeownership adds to the value of communities, has positive effects on children, and even contributes to increased voter participation rates.

Homeownership – THE AMERICAN DREAM

More than two thirds of American households own their own home. They know the benefits of homeownership, from the accumulation of home equity, tax incentives, and the pride of owning a place of their own. They also had to take the first step of deciding “I’m ready to be a homeowner.” Realtors assisted many of those more than 71 million homeowners in both their decision to buy and their first home purchase. Realtors are real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of Realtors who abide by the Association’s strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. They can help guide you to first-time homebuyer programs in your area, as well as assist you in searching for and buying your home.

[1] Property tax rates vary by city and county

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