Renting or Buying a Home or Apartment

  • August 2, 2017
  • By: Greenpath Financial Wellness

Are you deciding between renting or buying a home or apartment? Owning your own home can be rewarding. But don’t be too quick to jump into a purchase! There are plenty of reasons why renting might be right for you.

Benefits of Renting

  • Flexibility. Do you see yourself moving to a different city or state in the next few years? Do you have a job that might transfer you to another location? When you rent, it’s a lot easier to move on to the next chapter of your life.
  • Predictability. Maintaining your own home can get expensive! When you’re renting, your monthly costs should be limited and predictable. Rent, utilities and maybe renter’s insurance.
  • Style.  First-time homebuyers often have to look at older houses that may need updating. If you prefer a more modern space with new appliances, you’re probably better off renting.
  • Service. Broken dishwasher? Furnace not working? Call the landlord and they’ll take care of it. Homeowners don’t get to do that!
  • Freebies. Some rentals have perks like fitness centers, pools or parking structures included in your rent.

Research Before You Rent

  • Affordability. How much can you afford to spend on rent and utilities? Check local listings of apartments and rental houses and find something that fits your budget.
  • Needs. How many bedrooms do you need? Do you need a garage? Storage space? Outdoor play area for kids? Are pets allowed? Finding a home that doesn’t suit your needs can make for a difficult living situation.
  • Community. What is the neighborhood like? Is it safe? Is it noisy? Are there young families? Mostly retirees? Churches? Colleges? Entertainment? Find a community that fits your lifestyle.
  • Quality. What is the condition of the property? Is the landlord responsive and respectful in fixing problems for tenants? Talking to neighbors or past tenants might give you good insight. Online reviews for property managers can help too.

 Understanding the Lease Agreement

The lease is the contract that defines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, and the duties and requirements of the landlord. Leases are long and full of legal-sounding language. But they are extremely important! Don’t make the mistake of signing a lease without understanding what you’re agreeing to.

Here are some things about leases you should understand.

  • Term. Most residential leases are for a one-year period. They typically go to a month-to-month arrangement after that. But read your lease carefully.
  • Cost. The lease spells out exactly what your rent will be, and what additional expenses you will need to pay. Some utilities – like water or electricity – may be included. But generally tenants are responsible for most utilities.
  • Maintenance. When you rent a home or apartment, your landlord will most certainly be responsible for big repairs and maintenance. But what about the smaller stuff like lawn maintenance or replacing burnt-out lightbulbs? If your lease agreement doesn’t cover these items, talk to the landlord about them. Get something in writing.
  • Legally binding. When you sign a lease, you’re entering a legal contract with the landlord. If you don’t follow the rules you’ve agreed to, you might have to pay fees, go to court, or even lose your place to live. Likewise, if your landlord doesn’t follow the rules, you have rights to protect yourself.