Should You Rent or Buy Your Next NJ Home? Money Isn’t the Only Factor
Buying a home is an investment, but mortgage rates are historically high. Renting would require a cheaper monthly payment, but that could rise every year. I'd rather own a place, but I plan to move again in a few years.
Should you rent or own your next home? Many New Jersey residents are likely facing that decision at this very moment.
The numbers are obviously important. Online calculators like this one from NerdWallet can help you determine the approximate cost of one option versus the other.
But experts say money — which on the surface would appear to be the main factor for undecided renters/buyers — is just one of several pieces of the decision-making puzzle.
"A lot of this analysis is going to depend on how long you expect to stay in the place that you're looking to rent or buy," Leslie Beck, owner of Compass Wealth Management in Rutherford, told us.
Beck said she doesn't buy in to the argument that putting out rental payments is "throwing your money away." Whether you rent or own, you're paying monthly for shelter, and that's what you get in return.
And if you're planning to own a home for just a short while before moving, much of your mortgage payments in those first few years is going toward interest and doesn't help you much when you eventually sell.
Beck said the rent-versus-own dilemma is a common topic among clients. One factor to consider is how much control someone would like over their property.
"Do you want to be able to paint it the color that you want? Do you want to be able to change the landscaping?" she said. "And in this day and age where it's so much easier to work from home, the quality of your surroundings really makes a big difference."
The answer to which option — renting or buying — is simply more affordable can change from year to year. The rate on a mortgage today for a 30-year loan is close to 7%; a year ago, it was less than 4.5%.
Beck added that renters have less certainty about the future of their monthly payments, compared to those with a mortgage.
"Most communities do not have rent control," Beck said.
Mortgage payments generally stay the same through the life of a fixed-rate loan, but factors such as property taxes and insurance can cause your bill to change.
According to ATTOM Data Solutions, renting is more affordable than homeownership across most of the country. Renting was found to be the more affordable option in 10 out of 15 New Jersey markets analyzed by ATTOM.