Is it best to rent or buy your first time?

Asked by Jayneemarie, Silver Spring, MD Mon Oct 10, 2011

I am getting married next year and it will be the first time my fiance and I are "on our own". We both have stable jobs, but are relatively inexperienced with the housing market. Just wanted some opinions on whether it'd be best to rent first and then buy later? I've gotten a lot of mixed reviews from family, so I figured complete strangers would be more straight forward.

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Piero Marinu…, Agent, Silver Spring, MD
Mon Oct 10, 2011

If you know the area well, and you know what neighborhood/area you want to live in, then buying is at least a consideration. That said, if you rent for a year while you make a plan to purchase your first home (very important), you can save yourself a lot of headaches.

Clearly, if you don't know the area well, look for rentals first to see if you find anything suitable.

If you need someone to sit down with to talk through your options, please feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email.

Take care, good luck, and congratulations on the upcoming marriage!
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1 vote
Shawn Ryan R…, Agent, Belleville, NJ
Tue Dec 6, 2011
in generally, it is always better to rent than to buy. however, renting can be an attractive option if home prices are high and renting is relatively cheap at the same time. but all things being equal, always buy - you can accrue equity and have the chance for a capital gain in the future.
0 votes
Quantane Hig…, Agent, White Plains, MD
Sun Dec 4, 2011
Everyone's situation is different. While it is a great time to purchase a home, your relationship status plays a vital role. If you are comfortable purchasing a home with your fiancee, then go for it. While many may say this is not a good step, I say look at it as a business venture. This will be your first business venture together. Just be sure to seek legal counsel, in case the relationship does not work out. Since you are not married, your home purchase will be a joint venture, in which both of you will have 50/50 ownership and if anything happens to either one of you, you both can determine who will gain your 50% share. In short, sit down and discuss this move and employ the right parties who will give you sound advise if you decide to take this step.
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Jeffrey Kami…, Agent, La Grange, IL
Sun Dec 4, 2011
It is an excellent time to be a buyer. Home prices and interest rates are both extremely low, whereas rental rates are climbing in most markets. In my opinion, a year is plenty of time to do your research and decide where you want to live. I would recommend contacting a mortgage broker to find out how much you can afford and contact a Realtor who is experienced in working with buyers. Good luck!
0 votes
FarOutWest, Home Seller, Springfield, MA
Mon Nov 28, 2011
Ms. Meagan:

A real estate agent with common sense! A real estate agent whose only desire is not the closing table!
Thank you for your practical and realistic answer!
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Meagen A, , New York, NY
Sun Nov 27, 2011
What happens if you buy an awesome house and wind up hating the neighborhood?
Or a great house in a seemingly nice neighborhood that in 5 years time devalues the home?
Or a lovely house in a perfect neighborhood with a high but manageable mortgage and the one of you gets in an accident and can no longer work?
Or get an amazing job offer in another state after buying the house of your dreams?
Etc etc etc

Rent rent and rent at least for...
Gasp! 7 years and then evaluate your circumstance and needs.

Good luck!
0 votes
Judi Monday,…, Agent, Green Valley, AZ
Sun Nov 20, 2011
If you are in a position to be able to do so, I would recommend you consider buying a home as the conditions may never be better to do so than they are right now with low prices, low interest rates and so much to choose from on the market in all price ranges.

Best of Luck,
0 votes
FarOutWest, Home Seller, Springfield, MA
Sun Nov 20, 2011
If you have to ask, then wait.
Yes, asking strangers for advice may provide answers unfiltered by often ignorant family members, but asking a real estate agent whether buying or renting is the best solution will only raise subjective responses to buy, not the truth.

The current code provides mortage interest deduction. The true value of that deduction, however, is not the total interest deduction but the net difference between the mortgage deduction and the filer's standard deduction. And that net deduction, even if positive, may (and likely will) be devoured by unexpected costs of owning a home.

Owning a house can be a delight. I know, I have owned several. It can also be a nightmare, and I have the receipts and legal documents to show for it. Home ownership is akin to marriage...speaking of, why not focus on your new marriage for the next 2-3 years and see what life brings and opportunities arise before committing to a house?
0 votes
Theresa Shea…, Agent, Ellicott City, MD
Wed Oct 12, 2011
Has anyone explained the tax advantages of mortgaging and owning a home to you? Most people forget about factoring that in when making their decision. The difference in the amount of money you get to keep in YOUR pocket is significant when you own vs. renting.
In addition to the things listed in the answers below, ultimately it's your own lifestyle, readiness and preference that will guide you.
Don't let inexperience in the housing market hold you back. Research a few companies. Interview a few realtors (it's free!) And don't get roped in by the first one. If you do decide to buy, you will be spending a lot of time with this person. Find one you like, TRUST and feel comfortable talking to. That's a very important part. Then get as much information from them as you can before you make your decision.
Blessings on your marriage!
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Amaury Alvar…, Agent, Main, FL
Tue Oct 11, 2011
Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. I always recommend to rent for the first year to see how things go in your relationship (meaning not having issues living together in a new area) Since you are both stabled in the work area, getting a mortgage shouldn't be an issue. The last thing you want is to buy a house in an area you don't like. Find something short term and see if it'll fit your criteria. After that decision is made, Start looking. Good Luck
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brent mendel…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Bethesda, MD
Tue Oct 11, 2011

Tough to say. Looks like you have some good advice here for the most part. I agree there are many pros and cons to buying. I would be happy to discuss it with you in person, via email or the phone whichever you prefer. I specialize in first time buyers and I know you will have alot of questions. As you should. Many of the renters I am working with now are actually getting a mortgage that is less than their rents. I'll explain the pros and cons and whether you decide to buy now or wait, we can get you on the path to home ownership. If there are problems we can have time to fix them. And depending on your situation I may have some first time buyer grants that help with the closing costs and down payment. Last piece of advice whether realtor or lender Google their name and also the companies name. You'll get alot of info on the people you need to trust. And try and stay local on the lenders, it makes a big difference. Hope this helps, good luck and let me know if you need more.

Brent Mendelson
Senior Loan Officer
Monarch Mortgage
600 Jefferson Plaza, Suite 400
Rockville, MD 20852
240-403-1970 Direct
301-412-0259 Cell
0 votes
John Burgess…, Agent, Burtonsville, MD
Tue Oct 11, 2011
Hello Jayneemarie,

It very much depends on your unique situation. For some people, it's absolutely the right time to buy, but it depends on a lot of factors. Renting, with a clear plan to get into position to purchase, can make sense too.
Contacting a qualified Realtor - which you'll find throughout the Trulia website - is the best first step. You want a professional who will be there to protect your best interests. Please feel free to contact me at 301-681-5093 or if I can be of any assistance. John
0 votes
Stephanie Co…, Agent, Dunkirk, MD
Tue Oct 11, 2011
Congratulations on your upcoming marriage and new life together. Based on today's real estate market and low interest rates, I would say it is better to buy. Many of my rental clients I work with are finding out they are now owning for less than they were paying in rent last year and now have the extra tax write off on their taxes as well bringing them a bigger tax return.
On the other hand, it is best to know where you want to live and be familiar with neighborhoods before you buy. So I can see where your family is coming from.
If you know how much you can afford in a mortgage paymefnt, and what city and communities you would like to live in, I would suggest looking at whats available both for rent and sale.
I would be happy to send you some listings to look over both rentals and for sale along with what the monthly mortgage payment would be on the for sale homes verses the monthly rent on the rental listings. The mortgage payment would also include your property taxes workwand Home owners insurance so there would be no extra costs to the payment.
I work with many renters and first time home buyers and would be happy to talk with you and sanswer any questions you may have.
0 votes
Mimi Davies, Agent, Santa Monica, CA
Mon Oct 10, 2011
Hi Jayneemarie

Congratulations to the future newly weds. I wish you a life full of happiness.

Buying real estate can be an investment, that if you can afford it, will enable you to build equity overtime rather than spend your money on rent. At the end of the day it's about what you want to do (not what others think) and most importantly are you financially ready/qualified?

Here's your basic, general checklist:
(it's all on a case by case so I suggest you schedule meetings with industry professionals in your area)

- have you been in your jobs for a minimum of two years respectively?
- do you have savings that you can put as down payment?
- do you have savings that will enable you to pay at least a couple of months in mortgage if something happens to your job?
- do you know which areas/neighborhoods you like? (most people factor in their lifestyle requirements like commute, family, clubs, gym, ..)
- did you get pre-qualified with a lender? (getting a pre-approval is even better, so see if you can work on that)

NB: Lenders will look at your FICO. job history, your debt to income ratio.

Should you find yourself in the situation where you are not ready financially, then it's ok. Rent a place and keep working on your criteria of eligibility so that, next time you're ready.

However, if you have the lender's "blessing" then your next time is to hire an agent. Since you're "relatively inexperienced with the housing market", having an agent will facilitate the process and the transaction a lot!

Good luck to you two :)

Mimi Davies
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Sally Grenier, Agent, Boulder, CO
Mon Oct 10, 2011
There is no correct answer. It's all about what's right for you, your lifestyle, and your personal and financial goals. For example, do you want to have children soon, or way down the road? Do you want to do a lot of traveling, or settle down? There are pros's & con's to both renting & buying.

Homeownership is a great way to build equity in a property and it's a great long term investment. Having your own home is a great place to raise a family. However, homeownership is a big responsibility that requires maintenance and upkeep. Are you prepared to do chores on the weekend (like mowing the lawn) or fixing something when it breaks (like garbage disposal, or furnace)?

Or...would you prefer to let someone else handle all of the upkeep? The downside to renting is that you're basically throwing your money away (or giving it to your landlord so he can increase his equity). At the end of the lease, you don't have anything to show for it.

You and your fiance should sit down with a financial planner and discuss your short & long term goals. That will help you decide what to do. Good luck!
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Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Mon Oct 10, 2011
It’s all about costs and lifestyle. Costs—financing v. moving-in, mortgage v. rent, repairs v. upkeep. Lifestyle—stability v. mobility, predictability v. flexibility, equity v. freedom from debt. It used to be all about equity. Now, there are other variables to consider in the balancing of the buy/rent equation; unfortunately a decision only you can make....
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John Young, Agent, Silver Spring, MD
Mon Oct 10, 2011
It makes the most sense to purchase. Interest rates are at historic lows--around 3.75% for a 30-year fixed FHA loan. When I purchased my first home many years ago, rates were almost twice this (7.5%) and I thought I got a good deal! Trust'll regret not purchasing now in a few years when the economy (hopefully) recovers and rates climb. When you rent you are giving your money away and will never see it again. When you purchase, it's like putting money in a savings account. Someday when you sell your first home you should see that money again (in fact, maybe more if you make a smart purchase). Also, you can write off all the mortgage interest you pay right off your taxes. A $1500/month mortgage payment is almost all interest the first year. So take that amount and multiply it by 12 and you can write off (almost) $18,000 from your adjusted gross income. When you rent, you write off ZERO.

I have owned 4 homes in Silver Spring and have lived here for 10 years. I know this area well and am a 5-star rated agent on (rated by my previous clients). I would be happy to talk with you and show you how purchasing a home now makes sense. Call me at 301-370-4757.

John Young
RE/MAX Realty Services
4825 Bethesda Ave., Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814
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Samson Doyle, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Columbia, MD
Mon Oct 10, 2011

There is never a right time to buy. Not that im discouraging you from buying but they
re are some many factors to think about that its great to meet with professionals to discuss if it is a great time to buy. Check out the web reference i've listed below that gives a numerical calculation if its the right time to buy right now for you.

My office is is Burtonsville and would like to meet with you and your finance to discuss benefits of purchasing a home right now.

Feel free to call me at 443-864-2391 or email at
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Tony McMahon, Agent, WHITE PLAINS, MD
Mon Oct 10, 2011
Feel free to sign up on my website, you will have the ability to search for homes as well as set up as many auto searches as you would like , while you are making your decision. You can also contact anytime with your questions.
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Tony McMahon, Agent, WHITE PLAINS, MD
Mon Oct 10, 2011
If you know where you want to live and plan on staying for a while than purchasing should be strongly considered, this is a great time to buy. If you are not sure where you want to live and there is a possibility of relocating in 3 or less years than renting is more plausible.
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