For many people, like this commenter, the “American Dream” has been to own a home. But even with interest rates at near historic lows, affordability is still a serious problem.
Q: I’ve been reading your column with all the letters from homeowners who have all kinds of problems. They sound as though they’d rather be renting rather be homeowners.
I’m glad to own my own house and not be renting. When you’re renting, in a way you’re paying your landlord’s expenses of homeownership such as his or her mortgage, insurance, property taxes, maintenance, etc., in the monthly rent while building your landlord’s equity instead of yours. Also, if a homeowner keeps up with the maintenance on a home, then that likely could prevent most damage that requires costly repairs as well as keeping the house looking nice.
When an appliance breaks, I look at it as I can pick out the replacement I want to buy and am not stuck with what the landlord gives me.
Also another bad thing about renting is you cannot improve or make any modifications to the house without approval from the landlord and if the landlord decides to quit renting the house you live in or decides to sell it when your lease is up, then he or she can kick you out without much notice and you’ll be left high and dry to find another place to rent. And finding another place to rent can be a royal pain in the rear. Also, the landlord can increase your rent as well too when you renew your lease.
I believe renting is good for the very short term but buying is much better for long term.
A: Thank you for your letter. For years, the “American Dream” has been to own your home. And, we agree that by owning a home, you can build equity and have a place to call your own.
For a vast majority of people out there, owning their own homes has been a great way to not only call something their own but see that property appreciate in value over time. That equity and that increase in value comes in quite handy later in life when you retire, need cash to fund a business opportunity, or if you want to leave something to your loved ones.
You are quite correct in stating that short-term rentals are a great way to take care of short-term housing options. When you move to a new state and city, you might want to rent in a neighborhood to see if the location suits you and your family. You might also want to rent while you take on a new job, just in case it doesn’t work out. For newly-married couples, they may want to rent while they adjust to married life and before they look for a home that they both will want for the next stage in their lives.
But for some, renting is what they know and feel comfortable with. Frequently, people that rent homes will rent a home that is smaller than they otherwise would own. Their housing costs may be less (at least initially) than their homeownership costs.
Let’s say you rent a small two bedroom home but if you owned a home, you’d probably opt for a home that might be twice that size. You’d own the larger home but would also have much higher expenses to maintain that property. And, while you might build equity through each monthly mortgage payment, you’d also have higher utility bills and higher maintenance expenses.
That tradeoff is why some people might consider renting rather than owning. Unfortunately for many families, the ability to own a home is a function of being able to afford the down payment and monthly housing costs. And even with interest rates at near historic lows, affordability is a serious problem that’s only getting worse. Shared housing in rental apartments may be the only option that’s affordable until developers figure out how to build larger quantities of starter homes priced to fit first-time buyers’ pocketbooks.
Thanks for your comment.