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To Own or Rent? - That is the Question

Updated on April 25, 2016

Renting or Owning - Which is Best for You?

To own or to rent your home or apartment? This is a question, all right. And the answer is not necessarily clear. But there are some things to consider:

Advantages of home-ownership:

  1. You own your own home, which means you can basically do as you please, within reason and legal guidelines. You can own pets, smoke, work on hobbies, paint in any color, have as many people sleep over as you want, again within reason, plant what you want, build what you want.
  2. You have an investment that, the housing crisis notwithstanding, will most likely increase in value over the long haul.
  3. Equity. You can use your homeowners line of equity to pay bills, take out loans, and do many things that a renter cannot do.
  4. No lease to renew. As long as you make your mortgage payments, you can stay.
  5. If your mortgage is a fixed rate one, your payments remain pretty much the same, even if homes soar in value and rents soar as well.
  6. If you stay long enough, the mortgage is paid off and you only pay property taxes.
  7. you can leave your home to your heirs.

Disadvantages to home-ownership:

  1. You are responsible for all repairs, maintenance, and upkeep.
  2. Homeowners' insurance, which is a must, is much more expensive and harder to get than renters' insurance.
  3. Liability extends to your entire property, not just inside your home, and even extends to areas you don't really own, like the sidewalk in front of your home.
  4. If your neighborhood deteriorates or you need to move for any reason, a home is much more difficult to sell, even in a sellers' market, and requires much more paperwork, and middlemen such as realtors and attorneys, and more fees. And takes more time.
  5. If your home is a condominium, or is under any type of HOA, you don't really own your home! You must pay dues, which can be raised arbitrarily to any amount, the HOA can foreclose on your home, sometimes even for the slightest infraction or late payment. And the HOA can make up any rules and restrictions it wants to! And forget fighting them through the legal system. Like they do for health insurance companies and the IRS, courts routinely bend over backwards to rule in the HOA's favor, even if the HOA baldfacedly breaks it's own rules!

Advantages to renting:

  1. The landlord is responsible for repairs and maintenance. I don't have to mow lawns and I don't have to worry about hiring a gardener to do it either.
  2. Renters' insurance, a must, is much less expensive and is easier to get, than homeowners' insurance.
  3. Liability is pretty much restricted to the inside of your rental. If someone falls outside in the parking lot or in a common area, you're not liable.
  4. If you need to move, it is much easier to leave an apartment than it is to sell a home. Even if you have a lease with a penalty for early termination, at least you'll know beforehand, when you first sign the lease. You probably would just pay the early termination fee, (This can be more onerous with some leases than others - Be sure to check your lease on this before signing!) then you can move without worrying about having to find a new tenant or any liability from the next tenant. In other-words, you avoid the pitfalls of selling a home.
  5. I recommend signing a lease. This protects you as well as the landlord. It prevents the landlord from raising your rent monthly. It also spells out terms for both of you. While I don't know for sure, I believe courts are more likely to enforce a lease and take corrective action against an abusive landlord than they are against an HOA. And, you're more likely to get some of the protections of an HOA without the onerous fees and liabilities when you rent.
  6. Though some can be really oppressive and even mean, many landlords treat tenants as customers, especially in markets where there are lots of apartments available. Therefore, knowing that tenants can leave fairly easily, many landlords will honor their parts of the lease and won't trouble a tenant who pays rent on time and alerts maintenance of problems before they get really bad.
  7. In relation to # 6 above, the landlord is much more likely to have your new apartment cleaned up before you move in. The new homeowner may find a mess when they move in.
  8. Security may be better due to the layout of the complex and the diligence of the landlord. Oftentimes, doors to apartments may face each other and a burglar may be more reluctant to break down a door not knowing if the door across the way may open.

Disadvantages to renting:

  1. You don't own your rental, and never will, even if you pay rent for 50 years.
  2. You may have onerous rules or a very oppressive landlord, but, considering what an HOA can do to you, I would rather take my chances with such a landlord that with an HOA, as it is easier to get out of an apartment than a home. See #4 above.
  3. You probably need to let the landlord know if you are going to be gone beyond a certain amount of time, or if you'll be having a visitor stay past a certain amount of time, or if you're going to have over a certain number of overnight visitors.
  4. You may not be able to have a pet or to smoke.
  5. Parking may be less than satisfactory.
  6. You are restricted as to painting or modifying your rental.
  7. Rents can, and often do, go up.
  8. You're more likely to hear your neighbors, loud music, etc, due to their closer proximity and common walls.

In addition to these factors, you'll also need to consider things like the size of your family. Families would need a larger place. If renting, this means higher rent and a smaller selection of apartments. If you're single, you won't need as much space and have more apartments available to you. However, trying to buy a home will be more difficult, as you'll only have one income. Also, there will only be you to do all the chores, inside and out, if you buy a home.

Then, there's the rental and housing market. Not only can they differ greatly in price, but laws protecting both buyers and renters can vary substantially.

And if you're planning on buying, and it's going to be your only property, please remember that, while it is an investment, this will also be your home.

And if you're considering a home with an HOA, do look beyond the supposed advantages. And be sure to read Jerilee Wei's hub, "Who Makes The Rules and When Did We Let Them?" The link is below.

Also, check out the other links, news articles and hubs below.

Good luck with your new place!

Alan S.


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    • myway720 profile image

      myway720 8 years ago from Gresham, Oregon

      Hi Jessica! Thanks for your comment! On this subject, I tried to be unbiased because every person's situation regarding this subject can vary greatly, so I just wanted to show facts for people to think about without showing favoritism for one side or another.

      Again, thanks for your comment!

    • Jessica Horn profile image

      Jessica Horn 8 years ago

      What a great, unbiased hub! I usually see a strong argument one way or the other, but your hub simply points out the pros & cons of each & lets the reader decide.

      Even in a market like today where it could be the best time to buy in our lifetimes, there are still plenty of cases where renting may be the best option for people.

      Thumbs up on the article!