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To Rent Or Own?

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Buying a home is a serious commitment. Where once homeownership was the ultimate American goal, these days many are purposely choosing not to buy a home and rent instead. To rent or own? Following are some factors to consider when deciding if you should rent or own a home.


While actual moving costs are the same when either buying or renting, the up-front costs for renting a home are significantly less than for buying one. A buyer must have enough funds for the earnest money, down payment and closing costs. Renters need only first and sometimes last month's rent plus a security deposit. The latter is all or partially refundable if the home is left in the same condition as at move-in, barring normal wear and tear.

Moving Considerations

Renters can move with as little as a thirty-day notice, but must wait until lease expiration or pay an early lease termination fee. Homeowners can move any time, but unless they can afford two mortgages, may need to coordinate their move with the selling or renting of their current home.


Homeowners can remodel a home as they wish, although homeowner's association rules must be followed for exterior remodeling if the home is in a subdivision. Renters cannot make changes on a rental property without the permission of the owner.


Maintenance costs come into play once a home is purchased. Funds must be set aside for major repairs, such as a new air conditioning unit or range. Renters just call in any needed maintenance or repairs and the landlord is responsible for the cost.


Pets can be prohibitive for renters, as many homeowners won't rent to those with certain pets. For instance, it is becoming difficult to find a rental property that will accept dog breeds such as chows or pit bulls due to insurance issues. Many landlords won't accept pets at all, dogs nor cats. If pets are accepted, a pet deposit is usually required and it may not be refundable. Property owners need not worry about pet restrictions other than homeowner's association rules if home is in a subdivision or city laws, which renters also have to abide by.


Homeowners have an advantage at tax time. The mortgage interest and real estate tax payments, as well as many home improvements, are tax deductible. In addition, homeowners are acquiring real estate wealth through increased equity as the mortgage amount decreases. Renters have no such tax advantage and no real estate wealth.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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