My own home: Renting versus owning

Own A Home

National Homeownership Month is celebrated in June, so as part of our celebration at Neighborhood Home Solutions (NHS), we will be discussing homeownership in today’s column and subsequent columns that will appear throughout June.

One of the issues we want to address is whether homeownership is right for you, a question each of you will need to answer for yourself because everyone’s situation is different. But we also want to look at the issue in light of the economic challenges the country has faced since 2008. While an economic recovery is taking place, it’s been a slow recovery. Many lives were turned upside down, and obviously not everyone has recovered.

Because of this new reality, some have raised the question of whether a goal of homeownership is even desirable. Is the American Dream of homeownership no longer a worthwhile goal? As you plan your future, as you look at your family, your children or grandchildren, is homeownership still part of your dreams? If so, is it a dream you can realize?

As a nonprofit organization that has helped thousands of individuals and families become first-time homeowners since 1997, including people who thought the dream of homeownership might be beyond their reach until they went through our programs, NHS remains committed to providing the knowledge, guidance and support to help you become first-time homeowners.

Our program is designed to give you information on the home buying process to allow you to make informed decisions. Today we’ll start by comparing renting versus owning a home.

There are advantages and disadvantages of renting and owning a home.

Benefits of renting:

  • Property maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord.
  • You are only under a rental contract for 1 year or less.
  • You do not have other costs associated with owning a home, such as property taxes or homeowner’s insurance.

Renter’s insurance, while not required, can be obtained from the same companies as homeowner’s insurance. This type of insurance protects your belongings if there is a fire or theft in the apartment or home you are renting. Renter’s insurance is generally cheaper than homeowner’s insurance.

Disadvantages of renting:

  • You are not the owner of your home.

  • Your rent might increase.

  • You might not be able to renew your rental contract and then will have to find a new place to live.

Benefits of owning a home:

  • You can build equity. Equity refers to the value of the home minus the debt you owe on it.

  • One of the benefits of equity is that you can borrow against it for many purposes, usually at a relatively low interest rate. For example, you can pay for children’s or other family members’ education

  • Homes generally increase in value over time, so a home can be a good way to invest your money. After the Great Recession, some have challenged this premise. For the vast majority of Americans, however, homeownership remains the largest investment they will make. And, home values are recovering.

  • Once your mortgage is paid in full, the home is yours. A mortgage is a loan to purchase a home. We’ll write about mortgages in a future column in the month of June.

  • Home ownership may reduce the amount of income tax you owe.

  • You can pass your home on to family members.

Costs of owning a home:

  • When you own a home, property maintenance and upkeep are your responsibility.

  • Homeowner’s insurance.

  • Real estate taxes.

  • Homeowner’s association fees, in some cases.

When you own a home, it is not as easy to move as it is when you rent. You will typically have to sell or rent your home before you can afford to buy or rent another one.

It is also important to understand you can lose your home, and your investment in it, if you do not make timely mortgage payments.

As we conclude today’s column, we want you to know that at Neighborhood Home Solutions the American Dream of homeownership is very much alive.

For more information, please stop by the office at 1600 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. S. S., St. Petersburg, or call us at 727-821-6897. You can also look us up on the web at www.nhsfl.org.

We also want you to know that we are interested in hearing from you about your experiences of renting and/or your experiences of owning a home. Please share your stories by reaching out to us at info@nhsfl.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

NHS is a 501 (c) (3) HUD-approved nonprofit housing counseling organization. All services are provided free of charge. Partners include the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HomeFree USA, Florida Housing Finance Corporation, Florida Hardest-Hit Fund, Pinellas County Community Development, and the City of St. Petersburg. A source for this article was the FDIC’s Money Smart program.

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