If you’re a renter, you likely face an important decision every year: renew your current lease, start a new one, or buy a home. This year is no different. But before you dive too deeply into your options, it helps to understand the true costs of renting moving forward.
In the past year, both current renters and new renters have seen their rent go up based on information from realtor.com:
“Three out of four renters (74.2%) who have moved in the past 12 months reported seeing their rent increase. The strain from recent rent hikes isn’t exclusive to renters who have recently moved. Nearly two-thirds of renters (63.2%) who have lived in their current rental between 12 and 24 months, and likely renewed their lease, have also reported increases in their rent.”
And if you look back at historical data, that shouldn’t come as surprise. That’s because, according to the Census, rents have been rising fairly consistently since 1988 (see graph below):
So, if you’re considering renting as an option in 2023, it’s worth weighing whether this trend is likely to continue. The 2023 Housing Forecast from realtor.com expects rents will keep climbing (see graph below):
This forecast projects rents will increase by 6.3% in the year ahead (shown in green). When compared to the blue bars in the graph, it’s clear that the 2023 projection doesn’t call for an increase as drastic as the ones renters have seen over the past two years, but it’s still above the historical average for rent hikes between 2013-2019.
That means, if you’re planning to rent again this year and you’ve not yet renewed your lease, you may pay more when you do.
Homeownership Provides an Alternative to Rising Rents
These rising costs may make you reconsider what other alternatives you have. If you’re looking for more stability, it could be time to prioritize homeownership. One of the many benefits of owning your own home is it provides a stable monthly cost that you can lock in for the duration of your loan. As Freddie Mac says:
“Monthly rent payments may increase over time, but a fixed-rate mortgage will ensure that you’re paying the same amount each month. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate is locked in for the life of loan. Steady payments allow you to budget wisely and make plans for the future.”
If you’re planning to make a move this year, locking in your monthly housing costs for the duration of your loan can be a major benefit. You’ll avoid wondering if you’ll need to adjust your budget to account for annual increases like you would if you left your housing payment up to your landlord and their renewal cycle.
You have also likely seen recent news reports saying it’s better to rent right now than it is to own your home. But before you let the emotion of this impact your decisions, you should understand what these claims are based on.
A lot of the time, these reports are assuming things that aren’t realistic for the average household. For example, the methodology behind one of those reports says that renting is the smarter financial option because of the opportunity to invest money elsewhere. It assumes renters take the money they’d spend on costs tied to buying a home and put it in an investment portfolio.
But here’s the thing – most people who rent aren’t making those investments! Ken Johnson, Co-Author of the BH&J National Price-to-Rent Index, explains:
“One of the difficulties with the rent and reinvest model is many people . . . simply rent and spend the difference. . . . That’s wealth destroying.”
The reason homeownership is one of the best investments you can make is the wealth it helps you build. That’s why there’s a significant difference between the net worth of the average homeowner and the average renter (see graph below):
So, before you renew your rental agreement, think about the opportunity to build wealth that homeownership provides.
Homeownership is the Largest Wealth Building Opportunity for Most People
Homeowners also enjoy the added benefit of home equity, which has grown substantially in recent years. In fact, the latest Homeowner Equity Insight report from CoreLogic shows the average homeowner gained $34,300 in equity over the last 12 months. As a renter, your rent payment only covers the cost of your dwelling (and, by the way, grows the wealth of your landlord!). When you pay your mortgage on a house, you grow your wealth through the forced savings that is your home equity.
One of the many reasons to buy a home is that it’s a major way to build wealth and gain financial stability. According to Freddie Mac:
“Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.”
The Largest Part of Most Homeowners’ Net Worth Is Their Equity
You may be surprised to learn just how much of a homeowner’s net worth actually comes from owning their home. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) shares:
“Homeownership is the largest source of wealth among families, with the median value of a primary residence worth about ten times the median value of financial assets held by families. Housing wealth (home equity or net worth) gains are built up through price appreciation and by paying off the mortgage.”
In other words, home equity does more to build the average household’s wealth than anything else. And according to data from First American, this holds true across different income levels (see graph below):
And let’s not forget there are many specialty financing programs available to help you get into your own home that will help you with needed funds for down payment and closing costs (but that is addressed in other blogs we have written!)
With spring market here, now’s a great time to consider if buying a home makes sense for you. Or maybe look at it this way… Now’s a great time to consider if increasing YOUR wealth instead of your LANDLORD’S wealth makes sense for you! The best way to figure that out is to talk with a trusted real estate professional. Let’s chat to see how you can begin your journey to homeownership today.