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Should I Rent or Buy My Next Home?

Two girls sitting by boxes

You have a decision to make. Whether it’s due to another rent increase or because you recently tied the knot, your current housing situation is no longer meeting your needs. Buying a home could guarantee a stable housing payment and provide the room you need.

But renting has been good to you over the years. Each move only required a minimal security deposit along with the first month’s rent, not a large down payment. Worry-free maintenance and access to free amenities are additional reasons why renting was an attractive option. 

While you may find another rental property or apartment that falls within your budget and square footage requirements, signing another lease also means saying “No” to the potential tax deductions and equity building power of homeownership. 

Making sure your next move is the right one requires a close examination of your lifestyle, finances, and expectations. Use the following questions to help decide whether you should sign another lease agreement or take a step toward homeownership by completing a mortgage loan application. 

1) How long do I plan on living in the neighborhood?

A well-deserved job promotion or exciting new career opportunity can happen when you least expect it. But, if you’re actively seeking changes to your employment, you’ll also want to consider the likelihood of needing to relocate to another city or state in the next two years. A recent Zillow Group report found it would take just under 24 months to break even on the purchase of a new home. Moving before then may result in a financial loss.

If you have a specific purchase price and down payment in mind, use a Home Rent vs. Buy Calculator to help determine how many years it will take for your home purchase to break even.

2) Did I recently start a new career or job?

Before a lender approves a mortgage loan, you must demonstrate a sufficient income and a stable employment history in addition to meeting other requirements. If you started a new career six months ago, consider waiting at least 18 months before submitting your mortgage application. Generally, stable employment is demonstrated by showing at least 24 consecutive months of employment with the same company or in the same industry. Lender requirements may vary.

3) When was the last time I checked my credit?

A good credit score can help shave $100s off your monthly mortgage payment by qualifying you for loan programs that offer the lowest interest rates and best repayment terms. If you’re unsure of your credit health, request a free copy of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Payment history and credit utilization are the two credit behaviors with the most influence on your credit score. Pay bills on time and keep credit account balances low to help boost your credit score.

4) What are my other financial priorities?

Are you or another family member planning to pursue their graduate degree in the fall? Do you plan on having or adopting a baby soon? Buying a home could require you to delay these or other financial goals to save enough money for the down payment and other homebuying expenses.  

5) Can my income support the cost of homeownership?

Besides a mortgage payment, new homeowners should plan to adjust their budgets to cover homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, homeowner association fees, and routine property maintenance. Rent payments may have included utilities, but homeowners may need to include these as budget expense categories. Emergency repairs pop up when you least expect them, so having an emergency fund account set aside for such occasions is a smart way to make homeownership affordable.

6) Would I qualify for a home loan?

Find out when you complete a mortgage pre-approval application with Credit Union of Colorado. After you provide information related to your income, assets, and debts, our experienced lending team can confirm your loan eligibility. Start the process today by letting us help you find a loan program that works for your finances.  

Have questions about the mortgage application process? We’re here to help. Dial 800-444-4816 to speak with a friendly representative or email us at eloans@cuofco.org.
 

Article by Tracy Scott