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Renting Vs. Buying: What You Need to Know!

General Peter Carstensen 4 Feb

When it comes to the Canadian housing market, there are lots of options for where to live! From renting an apartment to owning a single-family home, it all comes down to where you see yourself living and what you can afford! The beauty is, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to renting versus buying but let’s break down the pros and cons of both and hopefully help you to decide which is best for you!

Why do people rent?
One of the most common answers to this question is affordability. Most people rent because they believe it is cheaper than owning a home. This can be true in some cases, but there are also times when monthly rent costs are higher than monthly mortgage payments. Of course, there are also cases where rent is far more affordable than buying, especially when you factor in the cost of a down payment and maintenance on a home you own, rather than one you rent. Affordability is fairly dependent on an individual’s situation, but it is not the only decision factor for choosing to rent.

Another reason individuals may choose to rent is that they simply aren’t sure where they want to live, or maybe they cannot find a place that fits their needs. If you are new to an area, you may want to rent in the meantime so you can get to know the neighbourhoods and determine which area is the right fit for you. In some cases, you simply may be unable to find a home that is affordable to buy in the area you want or within a reasonable commute from your work.

For individuals who travel a lot for work or like to be free-floating, renting can be the perfect option but if you simply believe buying a home to be out of the question, it is time to take a hard look at your options because it may not be so far fetched!

Pros and cons of renting:
To help you decide if renting is right for you, we have put together a little list of pros versus cons to help you see if it is the right fit.

Pros of Renting

-Less maintenance
-Fewer repairs
-Lower upfront costs
-Short-term commitment for people unsure of where they want to plant roots
-Protection from potential decrease in property values

Cons of Renting
-Monthly payments may increase
-potential for being evicted/lease renewal not being approved
-paying to someone else’s mortgage instead of building your own equity
-requiring permission to paint or remodel

Why do people buy?

According to the most recent data, Canada boasts an overall homeownership rate of 67.8%. Even for those Canadians aged 35 and under, more than 40% of households own their own homes. This is quite an impressive statistic! So, let’s look at why people choose to buy.

One of the main reasons that people choose to buy a home is to have the stability and peace of mind of owning the place you live. This means you are not at risk of being put in a situation where the landlord wants to move their parents into the basement suite and you have to leave or having to deal with increased costs if you go to renew a lease agreement.

For others, the benefit to buying comes in building up equity and ensuring that nest egg for your future. When you choose to rent, you are paying into someone else’s mortgage and into their future but when you work towards buying your own home, suddenly all that money you invested is going to your future instead. This is an extremely important aspect to consider in today’s age when many are having trouble with the idea of saving for retirement.

Now I get it, you may be thinking “if I can’t afford to retire, how can I afford to buy a house” but if you can afford to pay the high cost of rent in today’s market, then home ownership isn’t as far out of reach as you think. This is especially true if you buy a two-story home and rent out the basement, giving you ample living space upstairs but also additional income to pay your mortgage.

Pros and cons of buying:
To further show the benefits and costs to buying, we have broken down some pros and cons to help you to determine if this is the right path for you.

Pros of Buying
-freedom to renovate or modify your home as you wish
-you are building up equity in a safe, secure investment as you pay down your mortgage
-potential for additional income if you have a rental suite
-Stability and peace of mind from being in control of your investment and owing the place where you live

Cons of Buying
-the risk of losing your home value when you sell
-responsibility for all ongoing costs, including mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, insurance and maintenance
-monthly payments can increase if interest rates go up at renewal time
-possibility of unexpected and potentially costly repairs

To Rent or Buy, that is the question!
To rent or buy, that is the question!
Did you know? 4 in 10 households spend more than 30 per cent of their pre-tax income on rent, which is above the commonly accepted affordability threshold.

The latest National Bank report revealed that monthly mortgage costs for median-priced condos was higher than the average monthly rent for a similar unit in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria and Hamilton. At the same time, monthly mortgage payments were lower than rents in Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Ottawa. While this data does not include suburbs, it shows a staggering difference between mortgage payments and rent payments.

If someone can rent for $900 a month or pay a mortgage of $1200 a month, it may seem like a no brainer but it is important to remember that paying rent does not build equity! However, if you are unsure of where you want to live or cannot find a suitable and affordable home with a close enough commute to work, renting may be your only option. This is where checking listings and discussing with a real estate agent may open doors and where a mortgage broker can come in handy to help you determine if purchasing a home is viable in your near future.

Yes, you can buy!

The reality is that in the long run, homeowners often fare financially better than renters because homeownership enables forced savings that accumulate over the years, growing into a sizeable nest egg.

If you are unhappy renting or really prefer the idea of owning your own home, you CAN. It is time to stop assuming you cannot make the leap from renting to buying – all you need is the right information and the right preparation!

To determine if you are able to purchase a home, a good place to start is the My Mortgage Toolbox app from Dominion Lending Centers. This app is perfect for seeing what you can afford. Using the app to calculate minimum down payments and monthly mortgage costs can help you to get a good picture of the financial landscape and your options. Looking at your budget and evaluating your current rent costs and other monthly expenses can also help you to determine your affordability bracket.

Some other things to consider before buying include:

-your credit score – do you have good financial standing to be approved for a mortgage?
-your savings – do you have any money put away for a downpayment? If not, do you have wiggle room in your budget to start saving?
-Your time – do you have the resources to maintain a home from the yard to any necessary repairs?

If buying a home to live in is out of the question due to the availability in your area or cost of homes close to work, another option is to consider an investment opportunity. Maybe you cannot afford to buy in the area you want so you rent in order to keep your commute short and be in a neighbourhood you love. However, you can still reap the equity benefits by investing in a vacation or rental property which would give you the necessary nest egg and help you feel more secure about your future financial situation. You could keep the investment property as long as you want! If you end up finding the perfect home in your area down the line, you could always sell your investment property and take the earnings for a down payment on the right home – or keep it as an extra security blanket!

Regardless of whether you choose to continue renting or make the leap to owning your own home, the most important factor is your financial security. What works for your friend or your parents may not work for you – and that is okay! However, educating yourself and looking into all the options will ensure that, at the end of the day, you are in the best situation for yourself.