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Homes, To B(uy) or Not to B(uy)

Whether you are just moving out on your own for the first time, or you've moved ten times before, there is always a big choice to make. Do you rent or buy your home? There are valid arguments on both sides, and in different scenarios either one could be the right choice. When you start looking into your next, and possibly final living space, there are a number of things you should consider.

When deciding whether to rent or to buy you might first look at how long you plan to stay before moving again. If you thrive on frequent change and the freedom of spontaneity, buying might not be the best choice. Renting a house is often considerably easier than selling one.

Another more obvious consideration is your financial picture. Do you have enough for a down payment of 10 percent, or is one month's rent more in your budget? Credit worthiness is a significant factor. In order to secure a loan you will need to demonstrate capacity to repay, strong credit history and collateral to secure the loan. Although your credit union can help you explore some viable lending options if you have a few credit blemishes, very poor credit may eliminate all funding options. You may choose to rent while you rebuild your credit score and save some money. Some advantages of renting

1. You have to pay a deposit to move in, but can get it back at the end of your lease, assuming there is no damage to the property.

2. Repairs to the property are generally covered by the owner.

3. You do not have to pay property taxes or insurance (although you should consider renters insurance) on the rental property.

4. You do not have to worry about marketing it yourself if you chose to move.

These can be powerful advantages for people without strong community ties or in temporary circumstances or with financial concerns.

Some disadvantages of renting

1. You have no equity in your payments, and when you move, the money you paid to rent is gone.

2. You have to abide by the rules of the property owner, and many times the rent does not reflect on your credit unless you have a negative experience, such as an eviction.

3. You are limited in terms of creating a space "uniquely yours" (i.e. limited possibilities for remodeling).

A few thoughts on buying

Buying a home requires a good deal of thought and investment, but it can be an excellent option for those with the credit, money, and desire to remain in one place for an extended period.

The upside of buying a house is that it is yours, and you can do what you wish with it (within reason of course, or you will have neighbors/associations to answer to!). Many homeowners appreciate opportunities to personalize their homes and painting, remodeling, and adding on become exciting options.

Making house payments and improvements on your home also helps build equity, making the house worth more with time. Owning a home also offers advantages at tax time and can be an important resource if you ever need to borrow a large sum of money.

There are some downsides to buying. If it breaks, you get to fix it. There is no maintenance man or deductions on rent for self-repair. You also have to pay all taxes and insurance on your home, causing more of an expense than renting somewhere comparable. Issues regarding value are also in play. Purchasing a home should be an investment. If your home loses value because of changes in the neighborhood or the market you may end up losing money.

What's most important for making the best decision for your situation is research and a careful review of your short and long term financial goals. The choice is yours.

Nicole Soltau is the President and Founder of - The Leading Credit Union DirectorySearch, Find, Join.

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