Renting vs. Buying: Part 3 – Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying

There are advantages and disadvantages to owning your own home.  Which is best for you?  That depends on your current and future plans.  This guide presents the pros and cons for buying.

Advantages to Buying

  1. Customization – You can choose to what colors to paint, what renovations to make, and you can make your home more energy efficient.  The possibilities are endless without having to ask a landlord.  You’ll also not have to wait on a landlord to fix appliances or other problems with the home.
  2. Forced Savings – By paying your mortgage, you are building equity in your home.  After time, the mortgage is paid down and there is a good chance that you’ll be able to either sell it at a profit or use it to leverage other investments.
  3. Income Source – Your home can help make you money.  Renting out a bedroom/basement suite/guest house is a great revenue source.  In crowded cities, offering a parking space or garden for rent can also provide a secondary income.
  4. Tax Benefits – In a primary residence, deducting mortgage interest is the main tax benefit.  Other deductions may be available for specific situations (PMI, energy efficiency, etc).  Consult a tax professional for more information as well as tax benefits for investment properties as they can be extensive.
  5. Stability – No landlord can kick you out.  If you’ve chosen a fixed rate mortgage, your monthly payment should not increase (unless property taxes increase, which is typically a small change).

Disadvantages to Buying

  1. Illiquidity – When buying a home, your money is tied up and cannot be quickly and easily made available.
  2. Repairs – You are responsible for financing all repairs on your home, large and small.
  3. Mobility – It’s much harder to pick up and leave when living in a home.
  4. Value – The value of your home may not increase in the first few years.

I’ve decided to buy, now what?

Congratulations on the decision to purchase a home!  You’ve made the first step, now what?

Home Buying Process

  1. Consult your Realtor.  Don’t have a Realtor?  Email me.  I have an extensive network of excellent Realtors with whom I’d be happy to put you in touch.
  2. Speak with a lender.  Your Realtor may require that you’re pre-approved before going to look at homes.  Why?  Two reasons.  First, falling in love with a beautiful home only to find that it’s unrealistic stinks!  Second, in a strong market, often sellers require buyers be pre-approved.  We don’t want you to miss out on your dream home because you had to wait till Monday to get pre-approved and could not submit an offer.
  3. Start the search!  In looking at homes, the more honest you are in discussing your likes and dislikes, the better your Realtor will be able to meet your needs.
  4. You’ve found the home!
  5. Offer to Purchase.  Your Realtor will discuss your price, terms, and conditions and will submit an offer to purchase.
  6. Negotiations. If your offer is accepted, you skip the negotiations step.  If the seller presents a counter offer, you and your Realtor will discuss the counter and negotiate until an agreement is reached.
  7. Offer accepted!  Or go back to #3, but hopefully not!
  8. Due Diligence period begins.  Your agent will help you coordinate inspections, a survey, obtaining insurance, selecting a closing attorney, and applying for a loan (if not a cash offer).  The lender will order an appraisal, the closing attorney will complete a title search, the loan application will go to underwriting, and be approved or declined.
  9. Negotiate repairs.  Negotiate any repairs that came up during the inspection, survey, or appraisal.
  10. Schedule a closing date
  11. Final Walkthrough
  12. Closing day!  Deed is recorded, possession is transferred, the home is yours!  Congratulations!

This may sound complicated, but a good Realtor with clear communication and expectations can make this a relatively painless process.  After closing, your Realtor can be a wealth of information about anything from a good lawn service to restaurant recommendations to maximizing your renovation budget.  You just need to ask!