Just the other day, Get Rich Slowly wrote a terrific post about renting versus buying property. I’ve been meaning to write my own post about this, especially since purchasing property has been on my mind now for over a year. It is also one of my goals I hope to accomplish by the end of this year or the middle of next year. However, I’m still not ready to take the plunge for a few reasons:

  • Down payment: I don’t have the down payment saved up. I’d like to have at least 10% saved, which would be about $30,000 on a $300,000 home. I am really far from this goal.
  • House prices: Decent homes in good neighborhoods are still selling for around $300,000. We live in a suburb of Los Angeles, so our prices are a little inflated compared to the rest of the nation.
  • Fluctuating income: My husband owns his own business and it’s currently a little slow (normal for January). I work as a substitute teacher so I’m not ever guaranteed work. This will also make it a little difficult to qualify for a traditional 30-year mortgage at a decent APR.
  • Indecisiveness: Lately, there are a few things about LA that are really getting on my husband’s nerves. He’s been complaining about everything: from the traffic to the grocery store clientele, to our neighbors. I’m not so sure he’ll be happy in LA in a couple of years if the city doesn’t begin to offer better services, smoother roads, or less traffic! Also, there is little hope for me obtaining a teaching job within the next couple of years with the school district I work for. They are one of the largest districts, and can’t find the money to continue paying it’s teachers. I live smack-dab in the middle of that district.

This brings me to rethink our idea of purchasing property. I know that we will eventually be property owners, I just don’t know if it’s going to be as soon as I had hoped. I have been really struggling with this new train of thought. That is until I read J.D.’s post. Basically it boiled down to what it really means to own property and is it a good investment?

Deep down I know that owning property is a good thing. If by the time of retirement, the home we purchase is either paid off or is worth more than we purchased  it for, it could be used to help us retire or move. It could function as an added security later in life. However, if we move only 5 years after we purchased our property and the market hasn’t improved, we would be breaking even if we’re lucky. In that event, we would be better off renting.

I found a great, free calculator from Yahoo.com that puts renting and owning in perspective. (I tried the NY Times link on GRS, but you have to be a subscriber to use it). Here is what the calculator figured out based on my numbers:

Rent vs. Buy Calculator

Rent vs. Buy Calculator

You’ll notice that based on these figures, it would be better if I continued to rent. The only thing this really doesn’t calculate is the profit earned by selling the property. I’m not quite sure how that works, but I would think that if you purchased a property for $300,000 and decided to sell 20 years later, the property would be worth more than what you paid for it. This is in sharp contrast to renting for the same period of time, there’s no profit in that scenario at all.

Again, I do intend to be a property owner myself in the near future. At least now I don’t feel as rushed or guilty if I don’t own my own little house in the valley by mid-next year.

What are your thoughts? Does this calculator factor in everything? Or is it missing the resale value somehow?

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