Burlington: keep renting, or buy first home? Break-even points?

Asked by Tim, 05401 Fri Apr 25, 2008

As someone who is currently renting in Burlington for a fairly high amount (~$1k), it seems like buying is probably a no-brainer, even with the gloom and doom predictions. (The market here seems stable, especially right in Burlington, and would have to lose $1k/month to be a bad idea, correct?)

The question: I see a lot of people advising buyers to rent instead of buy. Given the choice between giving money every month to someone else, and putting it into an investment of your own, how do you calculate the break-even point, even (or especially) in the short-term (1-3 years)?

My situation: able to put down $40-50k for a 2-br, hoping to keep monthly costs below $1500 (and closer to the $1000 now would be nice). Prefer not a project house - time's a precious commodity I sadly don't have much of - so condo may be the best bet.


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Casey Perry, Both Buyer And Seller, Indiana
Fri Sep 18, 2009
I recommend that now is the time to buy. There are good bank owned properties in your place Burlington.
And you can be qualifiwd for the $8,000 Tax Credit because you are a first time home buyer.
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Larry Story, Agent, Greensboro, NC
Sat Apr 26, 2008
I am afraid your question was posted to the wrong state. It got directed to North Carolina instead of Vermont. If you put the zip code in your question or put the state before the city name it will be correctly posted. So you might want to repost. Everyone of us that has answered are from NC.

Larry Story
Coldwell Banker Triad
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Larry Story, Agent, Greensboro, NC
Sat Apr 26, 2008
In Burlington as well as next door in the triad the homes have been appreciating on an overall average of approxiamately 3% per year depending on the neighborhood. Now while Alamance counties average days on market are a little higher (114) then Guilfords ( 93) it is still a strong and steady market. The average list price to closed price percentage is almost the same at 96.73% for Alamance to Guilfords 96.86% for year to date. I guess if you didn't have to pay rent and could bank the money instead yes there are funds out there with a higher ROI. But, you have to live somewhere!
As far as your ranges you are in excellent shape. I have some brand new condominiums 2 bedrooms for under 100,000 and if you only put down 5% and some closing costs (of which some the builders will pay) your payment would be around $850 with HOA , property taxes and insurance included!! So you would be paying less and you would own it.
So you tell me what you would like to do?

If you like just drop me a line or call.

Larry Story
Coldwell Banker Triad
0 votes
Daniel Eberw…, Agent, Clayton, NC
Sat Apr 26, 2008
Tim - In the short term (1 to 3 years) you maybe better renting. This is because the costs of selling a house in that short a time period can be greater then the property appreciation. You'll likely pay 3% to 5% when you sell in fees and commissions.

If you stay longer then 3 years, you'll start to see appreciation in the property (hopefully, but appreciation is never a guarantee) that would cover any selling expenses and put a profit in your pocket.

Also, consider the tax benefits of buying. Talk to your accountant and see what tax savings you might qualify for by owning a house. Deducting the interest can have a very positive impact on your taxes. I would recommend going to your accountant and say "How would my 2007 taxes have been different if I had owned a house" so you can see how it impacts you.

If you want a $1000 monthly payment, you'll need to plan on around $800 for principle and interest (P&I), and another $200 for taxes and insurance (T&I). These are approximate numbers, your lender can give you a better estimated. But based upon an $800 P&I at 6% interest you would borrow around $135,000 which would put you in the $175,000 to $185,000 price range. You'll need to budget closing expenses. Ask your lender for a GFE (Good Faith Estimate) and it will show an estimate of your monthly payment, and the expenses for closing.

Be careful with a condo. They have condo fees that cover maintenance that can run $100 to $200 or more a month. This money is pooled with all the other condo owners to maintain the buildings and grounds. You also run the risk of special assessments which may be assessed to cover one time major expenses when the monthly fees don’t cover an expense. This happens sometimes when roofs or siding need replacing, and it costs more to do then the condo fees have saved up. They assess every unit a fee, which you are required to pay. This can be expensive, in the thousands of dollars. This is one of the risks of owning a condo (or townhome.)

Also, look at it like this. If you rent for five years, and pay $1000 a month, over the five years you will have paid $60,000 in rent. Taking your $40,000 down payment and get a 3% return would get your approximately $46,000 for a total gain of $6000 renting. If you owned the house, and paid $175,000 for it, if it appreciates 3% a year, after five years it would be worth around $200,000 and you’d have paid down the principle to around $125,000 (according to a amortization program on fsu.edu) which would give you $75,000 in equity based upon your $40,000 down payment, a gain of $35,000 before any tax gains, which is $29,000 larger gain over renting.

These numbers are all estimates and approximations, and nothing is guaranteed. Talk to an accountant to determine tax benefits to owning.

I hope my brief novel has helped answer your question, please let me know if you need more info.


Daniel Eberwein
Triangle Realty Info, Inc.
Web Reference:  http://www.tri4sale.com
0 votes
Penny Parker, Agent, Phoenix, AZ
Sat Apr 26, 2008

You will have tons of options in Burlington with the money that you want to put down and your monthly payment. I would call a lender right away to see what programs would suit your needs and they could also help you figure out your target price point with the payment that you want to have.

As far as the break even point, if you choose a place wisely that is undervalued or an area that has good appreciation, you will be fine. This is where the services of a great Realtor come into place! That person would be able to help you find the best property to suit your needs.

If I can answer any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me through my web site below. I would love to email you my buyer's packet that is full of helpful information to get you started. I also have a great mortgage broker that I would be glad to set you up with.

Have a great day!
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