A Tale of Two Houses

Phyl Campbell By Phyl Campbell, 23rd Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3fcrqvgw/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

To buy or rent a home? When approached with a decision of two houses whose doors faced each other, one for purchase and one for lease, my husband and I were faced with a difficult question -- which was right for us?

Rent or Buy?

Buying a house has certain advantages. You don't have to ask permission to paint or plant anything. Most mortgages have fixed prices that do not increase over time. Sometimes, you can receive a tax break on the interest paid on the mortgage of your home.

However, buying a home can have major disadvantages. There is no landlord to call if something requires an expensive repair. Buyers are responsible for their own real estate taxes. And if you are uncertain about staying in an area, a house you have bought may leave you feeling tied down while your job would have you traveling or possibly relocating. It is easier to negotiate terminating a lease than it is selling a house -- in certain markets.

For these reasons, we had decided that renting would be preferred for us unless the monthly payment associated with a mortgage was much lower. So we went to talk to the bank. We had brought along a check stub, W2, and two forms of ID. We qualified for a mortgage, and were told our monthly payment would be within FIVE DOLLARS of the rental price. Now, to look at the two homes we were between.

On a map, these two houses looked very similar. Their front doors faced each other on the street. The house for purchase had an open area behind the fenced back yard. The rental home had neighbors in every adjacent area. We had previously viewed many floor plans in this neighborhood, and found them all to be very similar. So our expectation was to find two houses with the same or mirror opposite layout. We decided that with prices so similar, we would choose the house in better condition. If they were in the same condition, then we would choose the rental.

The Decision to Move

As I posted in an earlier article, PAINT TO SELL, my husband, son, and I decided this summer that we really wanted to sell our home in the country and move into town. My son is an only child, and there are not a lot of kids close by. Living in a neighborhood filled with his friends was very important to him. And, as the traffic has increased, so has our commute time to school and his activities. It took longer than we expected, but we did find a buyer for our home and will close on the sale next month. As a result, we had to find a new place to live -- fast!!

The First House -- To Buy

We arrived at the first house. This house was a bank-owned foreclosure. The layout of the home was acceptable, but a fridge was not included. Looking in the back yard, a section of fence was broken and would have to be repaired. Several door knobs were missing, and one of the bedroom doors had a fist-sized gouge in it. The walls were all stark white -- as often happens during a hasty repaint job over graffiti or problem areas, and the house smelled of new paint and carpet glue fumes. Overall, it was not a bad value for the price, and had there been no alternative, we could have made this house our home. Still, I wanted to see the rental property.

The Second House -- For Rent

What a difference was found in the house across the street! The walls were also freshly painted, but they were painted with a much warmer cafe au lait. Chair rails and varied tones made the walls look much more impressive than those in the house available for purchase. The home manager had installed a fridge at no extra charge (this could easily have been a $1000 out-of-pocket purchase, as we are selling our old one with the house). There is a large storage building in the back yard for a riding lawn mower and tools (this is a benefit to us, because it will free up garage space). The master bath had a split tub and shower, and the shower had its own light! (The other home only had light above the mirror). The closets in the rental home had much more organization and shelving -- something I will miss in the home I am leaving behind, and something missing in the home for purchase. In the correctly fenced back yard were some young trees -- no good for tire or rope swings, or even shade -- but enough for provide "base" for games of tag and other such child-friendly exploits. Maybe strong enough for a clothes line to air out linens and things once in a while. More likely to string a volleyball net between, as I'm not incredibly domestic.

The Winner Is...

For us, the question was moot as soon as we walked through the door of the rental property. We had bought and sold two homes in this economy -- losing a lot of money on the first, and only make a little money on the second. My husband works long hours providing for our family, so it is difficult for him to find time to fix the things that might cause problems I haven't yet learned how to fix. Though ownership of two houses has made each of us handy with tools, we have both come to prefer (and value) trusting an experienced professional to do many jobs quickly and easily. A good landlord or manager already has those contacts, and so can negotiate a cheaper rate than a homeowner can (again, in this area). Finally, with the second of the homes being move-in ready, while the first still needed work, and the prices being the same, the decision for our family was a really easy one.

That is not to say that the decision we made for our family is the ONLY correct decision. Certainly, it's not. Every family has multiple factors to take into account. But knowing how often fear prevents action, I wanted to share our experience and thought-processes here, which may help other home buyers or renters think of things they might not have had on their checklists. If, in opposite of our example, the rental has not been well maintained and the purchase house was, you would have been reading about the value of choosing a mortgage, and how it isn't as hard to qualify or as painful a process as you might think.

Now we have to apply to be renters, a process we were able to complete online. They wanted ALMOST as much information as the bank needed to process our mortgage, but we sent several e-mails asking if they really needed all that personal info, and since they did not, we only provided what was necessary to prove we could pay the rent. At some properties, that could hurt our chances of being accepted, but given the value of protecting ourselves from identity theft, asking to omit this information was a calculated risk. Visit the FTC website for more information on protecting your identity.

For other articles by Phyl Campbell, visit

her homepage.

COMMENT : What experiences have you had buying, selling, or renting? Which would you prefer, if the money factor was even? Is there a neighborhood in your community more desirable than the rest? Why? Feel free to join the conversation!

Tags

Home Buying, Leasing A Home, Moving, Renting A Home, Tale Of Two Houses

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar Bangkit Tensai
23rd Feb 2014 (#)

Great Phyl,
nice post

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
24th Feb 2014 (#)

good one Phyl...be happy healthy and joy filled in your new home...

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author avatar Randhir Bechoo
23rd Feb 2014 (#)

Interesting share.

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author avatar Michelle Stanley
23rd Feb 2014 (#)

It's never easy deciding between rental and ownership. There is a lot of red tape involved and your preference in the things you want from both. Your article is well written and gives full account of what you experienced as well as enlightening the reader on the pros and cons of real estate.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
23rd Feb 2014 (#)

Phyl, nice job detailing the pros and cons between owning and renting a house. I think this will be a great help to anybody trying to decide between renting and owning.
We own our house and love it. It's nothing fancy but the neighborhood is nice. We have a large, fenced-in yard that is great for the pets and the humans. For us, owning is the right decision. For other folks, it may be renting. I guess it depends on the situation and the individual's life circumstances.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
23rd Feb 2014 (#)

Good morning, Phyl, I think you may a wise choice. If you're like me, having to make major decisions with time constraints - like just sold our house-have to move, I think renting and seeing how living in the city works makes sense. Since you are home schooling, the district is not as much of a factor in where you live, I would assume. Regardless, best of luck with the move. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
23rd Feb 2014 (#)

Our son is only home schooling this semester, so schools were a big factor, and this neighborhood fits where we wanted to be. Now we can carpool with other families or he can ride his bike.
Thanks, everyone, for your pertinent comments!

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author avatar spirited
24th Feb 2014 (#)

Of course it also depends in which country you live in too.

Most mortgages here for example, in Australia, are variable interest, not fixed.

Good informative article, interesting for me to read how it is over there.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
24th Feb 2014 (#)

Excellent post Phyl!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks, everyone! Yes, spirited, variable interest mortgages could definitely weigh the scales one way or another.

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author avatar joyalariwo
24th Feb 2014 (#)

We all would prefer to own our own homes but then again, I guess it all boils down to what you want and what you can afford.

Interesting as always Phyl, I hope it all ends well for you and your family.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
24th Feb 2014 (#)

If the job is transferable it is better to rent. In Asia, people tend to buy than rent as own home gives a sense of security. For myself, I am more comfortable owning a home. Incisive analysis Phyl, wish you happiness and good luck - siva

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author avatar Retired
24th Feb 2014 (#)

Interesting read, Phyl. I have never owned property and never will. For me home is where I hang my hat. I hate the idea of being committed to something that is stuck where it is. On the other hand, I still have the remnants of my dream to live on my own boat.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
25th Feb 2014 (#)

Mike, my husband shares such a dream. And after owning (the mortgage of) two homes, we are inclined to agree with your assessment. Home is where we three are. And we prefer liquid assets as the means to enjoy other opportunities.
Thanks, everyone, for commenting!

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author avatar Kingwell
26th Feb 2014 (#)

Good job my friend.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
27th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks, Kingwell.

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author avatar Songbird B
9th Mar 2014 (#)

Wishing you all the best in your new place Phyl. Our family had always rented, but when I met my husband 32 years ago, he was already in the middle of buying a house..We are still here 30 plus years later, and wouldn't want to live anywhere else now. Great article! \0/x

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
10th Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks, dear.

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