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Ask Will: Renting Vs. Owning

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Will Wiard, an Arlington-based real estate broker. Please submit your questions via email.

Q: My partner and I have been renting an apartment in Arlington for the last few years and are considering taking the next step to purchase a home. Many of our friends are new homeowners, and while some say the process was seamless, others say the exact opposite. Do you have any advice on renting vs. owning?

A: For some people buying a home makes the most sense, but for others renting may be the best option (at least for now). Here are some things to consider:

Are you staying in the area? If so, for how long? Purchasing a home often makes more sense if you are planning to stay in the area for the next three to five years, or longer. However, renting is typically a better option if you can’t see yourself sticking around for more than a few years. Maybe you have a career that will take you to another city, or you are planning to attend grad school – regardless, it might not make sense to sell or even rent a home within a few years of purchase if you’re planning to move.

Is now a good time for a property investment? If you have a steady income, and feel financially comfortable, it may be a good time to invest in your own home. Another sign you may be there – if your current rental rate is more than what you would pay for a mortgage, buying may be a good option. You can find out more about potential mortgage rates by talking with a local lender, and explore pricing of nearby homes by connecting with a realtor.

How much $$ do you have saved for a down payment? How much you need really depends on your price point and ideal monthly mortgage rate. One thing many first-time home buyers may not know, is that you can secure the loan and make the purchase with what some may consider a relatively small down payment. Keep in mind, financing a home goes beyond securing funding for a down payment and loan. Many transactions also include fees to cover closing costs, the home inspection, an appraisal, moving expenses, and more. While few zero percent down loans may exist, there are loans available that allow you to put much less than 20% down.

Do you want to save on taxes? Who doesn’t?! As a homeowner, property taxes and mortgage interest are deductible, and can be particularly beneficial for individuals in higher tax brackets. There are certainly costs associated with homeownership, including upkeep, which means some of these deductions will offset, but the tax savings can still offer a nice return come April.

Do you think your ready to take the next step? Read more about the home-buying process in my post from last week.

I’m hoping readers can share any additional advice in the comment section below.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected]. This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

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