Buying vs. Renting, Which Is Right For You?

To rent or to buy?

It’s the age-old question. And the answer depends on your needs and situation. For some, owning is the best option. But for others, renting is the much smarter choice. That’s why it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of renting vs. buying to help you figure out the right answer for you.

Living in a large metropolitan area can be very expensive. The cost of housing can be especially daunting.

One of the toughest financial decisions you will need to consider when moving to a big city is: Should you rent, or should you buy a place to live?

Home ownership is often seen as part of the American dream but in large metro areas the high cost of home prices can be a big deterrent. And increasingly high rental costs are also making it difficult for many families to afford to live in larger cities.

Nationally, it is more affordable to own a home with a mortgage than it is to rent, according to the Urban Institute, a non-profit social and economic policy research think tank.

A median-income family spends 28% of its income to pay the median rent for a 3-bedroom house, according to the research organization. That compares to spending 25% of your income for a monthly mortgage  payment — principal, interest, taxes and insurance — on a median-price home bought with a 30-year fixed rate of 3.97% and  a 3.5% down-payment. That is reduced to 22% of income if you put down a 20% down payment.  (The median is the midpoint value where there are an equal number of values above and below.)

But the affordability equation between renting and owning can vary widely across the country. As interest rates rise, the affordability issue is becoming more of a problem for more cities.

In a new study, the research center found that it is actually more affordable to rent than to own in 16 of the 33 largest metropolitan areas.

The study looked at large metropolitan statistical areas (MSA’s) for home purchase and rental affordability and calculated the “rent gap” – the difference between the cost of owning and renting.

The city with the largest rent gap, or where it is more affordable to rent than to own, is the San Francisco area.

The West Coast city has a whopping rent gap of 43%: A median-income family in the area would spend 80% of its income to pay the monthly mortgage on a median-price home with a 3.5% down payment. That compares to the family spending 37% of its income on the median rent for a 3-bedroom house. The homebuyer would be paying an additional 43% of its income toward housing when compared to a renter.

But even though it is cheaper to rent in San Francisco that does not mean it is still affordable for many people. It just means that a greater portion of your income would be going to housing costs when owning a home than when renting.

The median rent for a 3-bedroom house in the area runs $3,450 a month.

The trend is similar in many other large West Coast cities, but not as extreme as in San Francisco.  Here are the 16 metropolitan statistical areas  where it is more affordable to rent than to own, as determined by the Urban Institute’s rent gap calculations:

San Francisco, Calif.: 42.5%
San Jose, Calif.: 19.1%
Seattle, Wash.: 8.6%
San Diego, Calif.: 7.0%
Sacramento, Calif.: 6.5%
Los Angeles, Calif.: 5.0%
Portland, Ore.: 5.0%
Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.: 4.2%
Las Vegas, Nev.: 2.5%
Phoenix, Ariz.: 1.8%
Baltimore, Md.: 1.7%
Denver, Colo.: 1.5%
Washington, D.C.: 1.5%
St. Louis, Mo: 0.5%
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas: 0.3%
Charlotte, N.C.: 0.1%

One thing to consider before abandoning the idea of owning a home in one of these areas is that the study does not take into account any tax benefits you would receive from home ownership.

Buying a house is challenging for many people since it can still be difficult to get a mortgage unless you have pristine credit.  Adding to the problem of home ownership affordability is the lack of housing supply

Why rent when you can rent to own with us!

In a typical home purchase, the sale takes place shortly after the offer has been accepted, and the transaction is completed at closing. Since most buyers don’t have the money to pay cash, a mortgage is usually used to finance the purchase: The buyer puts down a certain percentage of the purchase price (the down payment), then pays
the lender in regular installments over a period until the balance is paid off in full.

To qualify for a mortgage; however, potential buyers need to have a good credit
score and cash for a down payment. Without these, purchasing a home in the traditional way may not be an option. There is an alternative: a rent-to-own agreement. When buyers sign this kind of contract, they agree to rent the home for a set amount of time before exercising an option to purchase the property when or before the lease expires.

Here’s how rent to own works, and when it may be a good choice for someone looking to buy a home.

Download how our process works:

Rent to own process

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