Rent vs Buy 2021

rent vs buy 2021
Increasing rent

Thinking of your Rent vs Buy 2021 question? Consider Quarterly Residential Vacancies and Homeownership released by the US Census ( for the third quarter of 2020 is very interesting.  First the good news is that the US homeownership rate is the highest it’s been in a decade!  The seasonally adjusted US homeownership rate of 68.2 percent recorded in the second quarter 2020, was the highest rate since 2007.  In fact, the homeownership rate hasn’t had two consecutive quarters above 67 percent since 2009.  As you remember, the homeownership rate progressively dropped through 2015 to hover in the 63 percent range, which was the lowest homeownership rate in several generations.

rent vs buy 2021
Homeownership rate 1997-2020

The story of the housing market this year has been nothing short of phenomenal.  Initially thwarted by a dismal spring market, only to rebound at a record setting pace.  Even with historically low existing home sale inventory and rising home prices, eager home buyers are actively pursuing homeownership. 

On the flip side, the second and third quarter US rental vacancy rates are the lowest since 2008.  And the mean US rental asking rent of $1,600 marks a high point as rents continue to creep higher.  Of course, homeownership rates and rental vacancies will vary significantly depending on the region and locality.  However, looking at the US averages is a good benchmark to see trends develop.

For many, comparing increasing rent versus a low interest mortgage rates makes buying a home the answer to the rent vs buy 2021 question.  A November 8, 2012 article from Realtor Magazine (Rising Rents Press More Americans to Make Big Decision; describes the renter’s plight, by saying, “Rental price expectations continue to rise and are much higher than home price expectations…” This sentiment continues to hold true.  Besides escaping rising rents, many home buyers are drawn to the touted benefits of homeownership, including increased well-being and wealth-building.

How do you know if renting or buying is better?  First, when deciding on the rent vs buy 2021 question, there are many other considerations besides rising rents.  Consider how long you intend to live in the area.  Renting is often the housing solution if you think your residence in the area is temporary. 

Next, if you don’t already have one, create a housing budget.  Besides deciding on how much rent you can afford, talk to a mortgage lender to get prequalified to further help you understand how much you can afford to pay for mortgage or rent. 

Once you have a budget of what you can afford, create an estimated renter’s and home owner’s budget to compare.  Besides the basic housing payment (rent or mortgage), there are other items that need to be taken into account and can vary depending if you rent or own.  These other items include (but not limited to) monthly utilities, insurance, and maintenance.  To help with estimating the “extras,” start by asking the landlord and/or home seller for twelve months of utility bills (Montgomery County MD requires home sellers to provide this for owner-occupied homes).  Ask your insurance agent for a quote to compare renters’ vs homeowners’ insurance. 

Home maintenance is usually forgotten and not budgeted.  Tenants typically have minimal maintenance, which is an attraction to renting.  Generally, home maintenance for owners usually includes having seasonal or annual inspections on the home’s systems (e.g., HVAC, roof, etc).  Additionally, you have to budget to repair and/or replace systems as they age. 

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2020

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

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