There are major benefits to renting an apartment (such as zero yard work, minimal maintenance, and great community amenities), but there’s also something to be said for buying a house or condominium.
In most cases, it depends on your situation—your finances, your career, and your overall lifestyle preferences. Here’s a quick guide to help you gauge whether you're ready to buy or should keep renting:
Reasons to buy a home
1. You want a place where you can settle
Whether you’re looking for a place to raise your kids, build memories with adult friends and family, or retire in comfort, there’s something very satisfying about having a place you can truly call your own. If you’re longing for a place to live in for the long term (or at least for many years), you might be ready to make the leap into home ownership.
2. You’re looking forward to maintenance tasks and yard work
We’re not trying to be facetious here—some people really love getting their hands dirty gardening, love the satisfaction of building a deck, or are excited to customize their homes with new tiling or carpeting. If you can’t help but dreaming about home improvement projects or about having a fenced-in backyard where pets and kids can roam free, it may be time to start looking for a house.
3. You’re financially stable and ready to invest
Buying a home definitely includes some financial risks (see the points below). But it also comes with a pretty big financial reward: the ability to build equity. Unlike paying rent, most of the money you put toward your mortgage eventually comes back to you.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say you want to buy a home for $100,000 (just to keep the numbers simple). You invest $10,000 as a down payment and take out a loan for the other $90,000. Each month you pay a mortgage—some of which goes to the bank in the form of interest, of course, but a good portion (let’s say $500 a month) goes towards paying off the debt itself. After ten years, you will have paid $60,000 off of your debt and now owe only $30,000. If you sell your home for the same amount you bought it for, you walk away with $70,000.
Of course, this is your own money that you’ve been investing over all of these years. And keep in mind that it takes a few years for this principle to benefit you, and your home has to maintain or improve its property value over time.
Reasons to keep renting an apartment:
1. You’re not 100% decided on where you want to live.
There are a lot of benefits to living in the Research Triangle, for sure. But if you’re only here temporarily—say you have a job or career path that’s likely to relocate you within the next few years—it’s much easier to move when you’re renting.
When you rent, you just have to concentrate on completing your lease term and moving your personal items—not cleaning and painting and finding a realtor and getting a house ready for the market. Renting definitely keeps you more flexible and mobile.
2. You need time to build your credit
Whether you’re just starting out in adult life or you’re overcoming some financial struggles in your past, you need time to build up your credit. Mortgage lenders look at the following things:
- Your outstanding debt vs. your current income
- Your payment history (i.e. how often you are on time for payments)
- Your overall credit score
- How long you’ve been at your current job
- How much you can invest in a down payment
If you have had a rough couple of years that has affected your financial record, or if you’re new to everything and don’t have much of a record at all, it might be difficult to get a home loan with a reasonable interest rate. You may need a few years to get yourself established first.
3. You don’t have a lot of extra capital saved up yet
While it’s true that home ownership allows you to build equity, it also comes with occasional expensive surprises. Did your AC unit quit on you unexpectedly? When you own a home, there’s no maintenance hotline—it’s your responsibility to find and fix the problem. And in the case of an HVAC system or water heater, that cost can be to the tune of a few thousand dollars.
You’ll need a reliable reserve of cash in the bank to be able to absorb a major cost like that from time to time and still be able to pay your bills each month. If you’re still living from paycheck to paycheck and are just starting to get into the habit of saving, it’s probably better to wait.
We hope this guide helps you determine where you are on the renting vs. buying path. If right now you’re all about that easy apartment living, Cleveland Crossing offers luxury apartments with spacious floor plans. Schedule a tour and see if our apartments are the right fit for your stage of life!