From the Allentown Morning Call:
No risk. Owning a home can be a risky business, and there are no guarantees that it will be a good investment. Lots of people who got in over their heads with subprime loans (high-cost loans made to people with spotty credit histories) are learning the hard way that homeownership at any cost can be a losing proposition. When you rent, someone else accepts the financial risks, while you get to enjoy the peace of mind.
Cheaper. When you consider the cost of being a homeowner — mortgage payments, association dues, property insurance, property taxes, repairs, maintenance and upgrades to protect your home’s value — most of the time, renting will be cheaper.
Flexibility. A big home mortgage can keep you stuck in a job (or two) that you hate. When you are not tied to that kind of debt, you have the freedom to quit your job and move to another area. Or keep your job and move to another place. Or quit your job and start your own business. See? You’ve got flexibility.
Landlord. Owning a home is not all joy and sunshine when the roof starts to crumble, the furnace goes out or the plumbing springs a leak. When stuff happens (and it will, trust me), a renter calls the landlord. When you’re not worrying about fixing toilets, you have the time and freedom to do what you want.
Get out of debt. Homeowners who are up to their eyeballs in the costs of owning a home often struggle with paying down credit card debt because they’re so strapped for cash. And the temptation to keep adding to that debt because of all the costs to own a home can be great. Renters, on the other hand, have the opportunity to get really serious about getting out of debt because of all the reasons I just mentioned.
If you are a renter, sit back and count your blessings. Be grateful that you are among roughly 30 percent of American households for whom renting a home for now makes a lot of sense. And during these months and years that you are living more cheaply than you would be if you had a big mortgage, get into the savings habit. Save all you can so that when the time is right for you to buy, you’ll have a nice, fat down payment. That way, chances are great that you’ll take on a mortgage payment that is on a par with the rent you’ve been paying.
Now that’s an American dream!