The New American Dream – Renting

Reuters has an interesting article about renting a home vs. owning one, and how renting is a better financial move for many people:

Examining 250 properties around the U.S., and going through close to 40 client files to project the financial impact of owning real estate versus liquidating it, Arzaga, an adjunct professor inpersonal finance at the University of California at Berkeley, found that, “100 percent of the time it was better to rent, rather than own.”

That’s right: 100 percent.

The reason is simple. While a home is the main repository of wealth for many Americans, it comes with numerous hefty expenses. The carrying costs – what’s needed to hold and maintain the asset – range from property taxes and home insurance to emergency repairs and renovations. In a rental situation, the landlord covers those costs, leaving the occupant free to invest revenue in other areas.

It’s not so simple says another real estate pro:

“To state that owning a home is or isn’t a good investment is too simplistic,” says Jeffrey Rogers, president and COO of Integra Realty Resources. “It depends. In times of relatively higher rents, low home values, and low interest rates, it makes sense to own a home. But in a reverse market, it wouldn’t be economically feasible. Over time, those who purchase in down or flat markets with low interest rates come out ahead.”

Another expert points out that the real expense is changing your mind:

“Our lifetimes are a long time, and when we look over the long term, real estate and other investments tend to have a positive return,” says Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia.com, a real estate search and research website. “But when it comes to real estate, changing your mind is expensive. There are a lot of costs involved in buying, selling and moving. If you move every two years, it’s probably a bad investment for you. It also depends on your job market. If you’re in a one-company town and the company goes down, there goes your job and there goes your home value.”