The Pitfalls of Renting vs Buying a House

millennial roommates eating in a rental apartment kitchen

Is it better to buy a home or rent? It’s an age-old debate with a clear answer: buying is better than renting. Of course, purchasing your first home is a huge milestone that shouldn’t be rushed. It’s important to rent a home until you’re 100% to make the leap into ownership. Despite the potential challenges of buying a house before you’re ready, the pitfalls of renting can be much more treacherous. There’s a good reason why homeownership is the most common financial goal. It provides wealth and security that renting can’t compete with. 

You Never Get Your Rent Back

When renting, the money you pay out each month goes to another person’s asset rather than yours. When you buy a house, your monthly mortgage payments are an investment in your own equity. Home equity is the portion of your property that you truly own, calculated by subtracting your outstanding mortgage balance from the current market value of your home. As you pay off your mortgage and the property value increases, you’re effectively reimbursed for your payments.

The Benefits of Building Equity

Building equity has several advantages over paying rent:

You Can’t Make Money Off a Rental

When you own your house, you can use it to earn income in various ways. Owning a house can be beneficial in the long run as it provides an opportunity to generate income and build wealth by renting out extra space or rooms.

Renting Out Your Property

If you have additional space in your home, consider renting it out. This process is known as house hacking. House hacking is a real estate investment strategy where you live in a property while simultaneously renting out part of it to generate income. This can involve renting out a spare bedroom, basement, or garage apartment. If you have the right advertising strategy and avoid vacancies, you can offset your own housing expenses and potentially earn a profit, all while building equity in a property. This practice is forbidden in almost all rental contracts. 

Vacation Rentals

Another option for generating income from your home is by turning it into a vacation rental. If you live in an area with high tourist demand or own multiple properties, this could be an excellent opportunity for earning passive income while still retaining ownership of the property. Websites such as Airbnb and VRBO make it easy for homeowners to list their homes as vacation rentals and manage bookings online.


Renters Don’t Get Many Tax Breaks

One of the significant benefits of buying a house instead of renting is the tax advantages associated with homeownership. These tax breaks can help offset some of the costs involved in purchasing and maintaining a home, ultimately making it more affordable to own rather than rent.

The mortgage interest deduction allows homeowners to deduct the interest paid on their mortgage from their taxable income, reducing their overall tax liability. In the early years of a mortgage, much of what is paid monthly goes to interest rather than principal, making this deduction particularly beneficial.

In addition to mortgage interest deductions, homeowners can also take advantage of property tax deductions. You can typically deduct all or part of your local and state property taxes from your federal income taxes each year, further lowering your overall tax burden. 

If you decide to sell your home after living in it for at least two out of five years before selling it, you may be eligible for a capital gains exclusion that could save you thousands in taxes. The current law allows single taxpayers to exclude up to $250,000 (and married couples filing jointly up to $500,000) in profit from their primary residence sale from being taxed as capital gains. 

You Can’t Renovate a Rental

Homeowners have more freedom to renovate their homes, which allows them to truly make the space their own and increase its property value. On the other hand, renters typically have limited options when making significant changes to the property without the landlord’s approval.  From painting walls with colors that reflect your personality, installing new flooring or countertops to adding an outdoor deck or patio, these improvements enhance the aesthetics and increase the value of your home.

Rentals Don’t Provide Long-Term Stability

One of the most significant advantages of buying a house instead of renting is its long-term stability. Having a home of your own offers tranquility, with the assurance that you have power over where you live and won’t be required to move suddenly due to unforeseen events.

When you rent, your landlord may increase your monthly rates with each lease renewal. This can lead to financial strain and may even force you to move if the new rental rate becomes unaffordable. While mortgage payments can change with interest rates, you still have more control because you can refinance for better rates. 

Ultimately, buying a house provides long-term stability because it’s an investment in your future. As property values generally increase over time, homeowners build equity that can be used for various purposes, such as funding retirement or paying for children’s education expenses. Additionally, owning a home offers financial security by providing shelter during times of economic uncertainty or personal hardship.

Save Money on Rent: Buy a Home!

Buying a home proves to be a wiser long-term investment when compared to renting. Homeownership offers the invaluable advantage of building equity, tax benefits, and the opportunity to make a space truly your own. Additionally, the sense of stability and security that comes with owning a property is unmatched by rental arrangements. While the initial financial commitment may seem daunting, the benefits quickly pay off. Anyone looking secure their financial future and create a lasting legacy should stop throwing money away on rent and embrace homeownership.