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The shape of the U.S housing market is of genuine concern, to understate the fact. And many U.S citizens are weighing the options of where to turn when looking to establish roots; do we rent, or do we buy? Do we save for a down payment on a home of our own, making the financial sacrifices it takes to get us there and beyond ? Or, do we find a rental where we can be happy in the short-term, avoiding the front-loaded cost burden that must be understood (after the bank failures, and mass foreclosures of unsustainable mortgages of 2010 to today) as being a part of investing in property?

It’s an important question, and I think it’s a study in balance to answer it. I think too it’s a study in trying to separate one’s own goals with the demands and burdens of one’s culture, too.

Renting vs buying: not just about the money

The reasons for wanting to own a home, and really wanting anything that will affect one’s life in the long term, should be approached with thoughtfulness, discernment, and even at times, caution.

Let’s say that after much thought, reflection, and time spent managing a personal budgetary forecast, one can sustainably enter into buying a home. Is it still a good idea? For many, it absolutely is. For others, renting is still the more appealing prospect. I don’t think it’s just about the money, although the money is vital. Let’s not kid ourselves. Ultimately, I think it is a matter of priorities, personality, and the level of know-how to manage a property, day-to-day.

Renting: call the Super

For renters, day to day management is a matter for building owners, property management companies, superintendents.  A flood? Call the Super. Bug infestations? Call the Super. I suppose it could be the same for the person who’s just bought a home, if you were to replace the word “Super” with “Plumber”, or “Pest Controller”, and so on.

But, unless one is independently wealthy in this economy, calling the professionals every time there is a problem can really add up. In this, renting is the more straight-forward choice, when the building maintenance company picks up the tab for many of these expenses. Again, it’s about what you are personally willing to spend money on, based on what your skills happen to be when it comes to managing a property on your own.

Buying: a chance to make our mark

Homeowning is advantageous because one is able to transform an impersonal property into a customized home to a wider degree, relatively speaking, than is possible with the average rental property. Local building permits being well understood, if you have the money, inclination, ability, budget, and space to build a new wing onto an existing house for instance, or build a custom house from scratch on a plot of land, then homeowning clearly wins the draw over renting.

Even if a rental allows you to make certain changes to a property while you’re there, and transformation is just as viable, owning your own home is sought after a because it is our chance to make our mark, in terms of style and an outward reflection of our selves representing by our home.

Renting: making a home is about the details

If you’ve examined what your priorities are, and what they mean in your life, that project to maximize space in a rental unit may be enough for a space to truly feel like home to you. Really, finding a sense of ownership over a space in this respect is about working within whatever context you’re in. Then, establishing yourself is about the tiny, yet significant, details.

Maybe that shelf you put up in the bathroom of your rental unit, or that picture you hung over your couch, or that pantry cabinet in the kitchen you’ve organized, is as significant to you as a new wing of a homeowner’s house is to them. Or, maybe it can be – if you really think about it.

Yet again, it all depends on you. External perceptions may vary on this score, as far as what you’ve achieved, or what level of success you’ve attained. But, if it’s you spending the money, the time, the planning, the thinking, the actual work, who cares about external perceptions anyway?For the many people who have gone from being homeowners to renters, sometimes because of financial necessity, I think this is an important factor to keep in mind.

Buying: financial klout

The choice between renting a home or buying a home isn’t just about perception. With homeowning, there are some significant advantages that have to do with establishing a financial anchor. A home can serve as an indicator that you, the homeowner, are a trustworthy bet as far as loans go, or lines of credit, or credit cards.

There are, in some states, tax benefits to owning a home as well, which is a significant factor in deciding whether or not to own or rent. There is no guarantee that the equity in one’s home will always be on the rise. This is important to consider.  But, none of these advantages are available to you when you rent no matter what the market does. This is a very solid reason to invest in property, if you can. Yet, again, the decision is still about finding a balance, establishing priorities, and deciding whether this clear advantage outweighs the advantages presented by the alternatives.

Renting vs. buying: a deliberate decision

It’s been well established, even in times as low as these where the housing market is concerned, that owning a home is a part of the American Dream. Everyone values a place they can call their own. As the American poet John C. Mellencamp once said: “little pink houses for you and me …”

But, just because it may be a dream to own a home, it shouldn’t be a decision to make in one’s sleep.

I believe it should be a deliberate decision, and a very personal one according to financial means. But, it should also be according to one’s real life goals, interests, and priorities that contribute to a satisfying life overall. Home is, as they say, where the heart is, whether its by renter’s contract, or mortgage. But, I think its important to ensure that the decision you make is the one that is true to what’s most important to you.

What do you think?

Cheers!

Rob.

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Rob Jones

Rob served as Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home from 2007-2016. He is a writer, Dad, content strategist, and music fan.