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Rent or Own? In This Economy, Which Housing Option is Best for My Family?

There are both advantages and disadvantages to owning a home when you consider the economy. The best way to determine whether you should rent or buy is to consider the pros and cons of both positions, then see how they relate to your current home situation.

Although it may seem preferable to buy a home because of the security that it offers, there are costs associated with home ownership that may not be ideal for you at this time. You must consider all aspects of both renting and buying before you arrive at a decision, and know that these pros and cons may change over time as well.

Here are some considerations to make when deciding to buy or rent:

1. Owning a home isn't always a good investment. Avoid buying a home as an investment vehicle to turn a quick profit. While some real estate investors make a lot of money, many do not, particularly in a down economy. It's generally better to buy a home if you want to stay in it for a while.

Buy a home as part of your family's plans for settling into a place of your own.

2. Homeownership requires a down payment. A substantial down payment is typically required for most borrowers looking to secure a mortgage loan. If squirreling this much money away is difficult, you may be better off keeping an emergency fund or investing the money, rather than buying a home.

3. Mortgages include interest payments. Although mortgage interest is deductible in some situations, this is not always the case. If your interest payments, along with your other deductions, aren't higher than the standard deduction on your tax return, there's no tax benefit to paying mortgage interest.

4. Homeowners are responsible for repairs. As a homeowner, you must make repairs yourself or turn to a professional serviceman. There's no landlord to contact for repairs. You'll also be responsible for the day-to-day upkeep and maintenance costs as well.

5. Homeowners have additional insurance requirements. While you're making payments on your mortgage, you must pay for homeowner's insurance. Even if you've already paid for your home, you should still obtain this valuable insurance to protect your most important asset.

Renter's insurance is less expensive than homeowner's insurance.

6. Renting doesn't earn equity. By paying rent monthly, you're not building up any worth in the property, but the owner of the property is. Renting has no investment value at all, unless you're saving money by renting that you can invest in other investment vehicles like IRAs and mutual funds.

7. Homeownership does offer benefits. Home ownership provides your family with a sense of community, pride, and family security. You can design, decorate, and improve upon your home however you like without worrying about landlords, lease agreements and the potential for lease termination.

8. Renters can save money. As a renter, you don't have to pay homeowner's association fees, property taxes, homeowner's insurance fees, and maintenance charges. Renters can save significant money in comparison to buying, which can be put toward other investments and purposes like keeping an emergency fund.

There are definitely benefits and drawbacks to both of these positions, renting or buying. It's important to weigh all of these pros and cons before making a decision. Your best housing solution depends on your individual family and financial situation.

Choosing wisely based on your own needs will enable you to live more comfortably, secure in the knowledge that you're doing what's best for you and your family.