Is it cheaper to buy than to rent?
That is the 20,000 dollar question! The short answer is yes – kind of. If you pay rent for the same length of, say, a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly rent payment is likely less than the monthly mortgage payment on a 15-year mortgage. But at the end of those 15 years, as a renter you don’t own the property; while as a homeowner, you do.
One advantage of being a renter is that you do not have to pay for upkeep and maintenance. If you bought a home that needed massive amounts of repairs, you may end up spending more than the renter over those 15 years. Still, even after paying more, you have an extremely valuable asset when the home is paid off. It can be resold for more than what you paid for it and you have equity that you can borrow against that a renter does not.
If you are thinking about buying a house, getting your finances in order should be at the top of your checklist. Long before you start looking for houses, ideally years before, you need to start improving your credit score. Although standards fluctuate, if you want to get a good rate, your credit score should be at least 720. Spend a few years:
- Paying off debts
- Updating your credit report
- Making payments on time
- Increasing your income
- Building up savings for the down payment
Once your finances are in better shape, it’s time to get organized for a home purchase. This involves choosing a loan type, shopping for a loan, and getting a pre-approval letter from your lender. Your bank will base your qualifications on a number of criteria. Some of the financial paperwork you will need to show your lender includes:
- Proof of income
- Amount of savings
- Assets or collateral
- Employment verification
- Credit report
- And Identification information, i.e., social security card and driver’s license