Buy or Rent? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Home ownership is a mystery for some people.  It's part of the "American Dream," but it may not fit with their plans. 

So how do you decide when to own and when to rent?  Certified Financial Planner Mary Beth Storjohann says there are five questions you need to ask yourself.

1) Look out 3-5 years. Where do you see yourself?

Do you see yourself staying in the same community? Do you see a job change in your future? Do expect any major financial changes ahead, from buying a new car to having children?   Storjohann says if you are facing major changes like that in the next  three years, consider renting until the dust settles.

2)  Can you afford to both purchase and maintain a home and the property?

"You have to furnish it.  You probably have to buy a refrigerator, washer and dryer, there are utilities, painting," said Storjohann.  She says also take into consideration paying insurance, property taxes and possible HOA fees.

3) How is our credit?

Your credit score plays a big roll in how much of a loan you can be approved for and your interest rate.  The time to investigate and improve your credit report is at least three years before house hunting.

4)  What does the market look like where you want to live?

Does the location work for you?  What about added commute times and cost-of-living expenses? Are prices on the rise in the community, or are they dropping?

5) Is you lifestyle conducive to home ownership?

"It sounds great to say that I own a home.  It looks great to my friends, you look great to your peers.  You can talk about the community but the thing is, ultimately if it's not conducive to your lifestyle, it's going to be a lot more stressful on the other end," said Storjohann.

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