Renting vs. Buying: How to Know When Renting is the Best Option
If you are getting ready to graduate from high school or college and are thinking about moving out on your own, it can seem a bit overwhelming—and confusing. There is so much to consider: where you want to live, how much of a payment you can afford, will you have roommates, and what does all of the paperwork actually mean…
Let’s start at the beginning. The first thing that you need to look at when you are deciding to get your first place, is whether you should rent or buy. Surprisingly, the answer for most young adults, just leaving their parents’ home, is to rent. Why? Isn’t that just throwing money away, when it could be building equity in your own asset? Not necessarily. Here are 3 reasons, that renting may be your best option.
SAVE UP FOR A DOWN PAYMENT
In order to get a conventional mortgage, you can only finance 80% of the loan to value of the home you want to buy. If you are above that amount, you have to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance) or find a lender that will do a 2nd mortgage. Taking a few years to stash some cash away for a down payment on your home—and to cover closing costs—will be a huge benefit to your finances down the road.
BUILD YOUR CREDIT
If you are just moving out on your own, you may not have much of a credit history built up, even if you do have a credit card or two. Without much of a credit history, which lenders use to determine your ability to repay the mortgage loan, you may be considered a higher risk consumer, and end up with a higher rate. You can take steps, during the few years that you are saving up for a down payment, to build your credit history and increase your credit score.
- Get a credit card—having a credit card that you use monthly and make a payment on monthly will start building your credit history in a positive way. While racking up a bunch of credit card debt is not good, utilizing a credit card to pay monthly expenses, then turning around and making a payment to the credit card company (on-time) every month, gives you a credit history because your credit card company, most likely, reports to at least one of the three major credit bureaus.
- Pay your rent on-time every month—even though most rental owners or apartment complexes don’t report to the credit bureau, you actually can build a rental payment history by paying your rent each month by personal check from your bank. This will give you a paper trail of a rental payment history; and often, lenders will accept bank statements to prove this.
- Finance a larger purchase, such as furniture or a car—even if you have the cash to buy a car or furnish your new apartment, taking out financing on a major purchase like this is a great way to show your ability to repay a loan and can build your credit.
DECIDE ON THE PERFECT LOCATION
If you are just graduating and moving out on your own, chances are you haven’t found your dream job. So unless you know for sure that you plan on living in the same area for at least five years, purchasing a home may not make financial sense anyways. When you purchase a home, there are closing costs involved, and typically, it takes at least a couple of years to recoup those transaction costs. The first few years of any mortgage that you take out is also the time during a loan that most of your payment is going toward the interest. So if you move within the first five years of taking out a mortgage loan, you may actually lose money if you sell your home. In most short-term living situations you are probably better off to just rent, and then buy when you have settled on a location.