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Mortgage rates are below 3%, which means it's time to buy a house, right?
Not so fast. Before you start scrolling Realtor.com or Zillow, think about how buying a home and taking on a mortgage could benefit you. Just as importantly, consider the reasons now may not be the right time for homeownership. Here, we'll cover six times it makes sense to continue renting.
1. You're trading financial security
If your rental situation has you sitting pretty financially, with no worries about whether you'll be able to pay your bills, buying property can throw a real monkey wrench into the mix. While it's easy to think, "Oh, I have plenty of money now, and I can afford to take on a mortgage," it's not quite that simple.
Buying a house means more than a mortgage payment. It means you're responsible every time the sump pump or water heater breaks. It means paying for windows when the original thermal seals go bad. It means receiving a notice each year telling you whether property taxes have risen. Homeownership means paying more for homeowners insurance than you pay for renters insurance and often spending more on utilities.
2. You have better things to do with the down payment
Maybe you started saving for a down payment, but now have priorities that have nothing to do with owning a house. Perhaps you have always wanted to open a food truck or to create your own brand of activewear. Maybe you hope to take a year off work to write a book, or you want to get the old band back together for one last series of gigs. It's OK to redirect that down payment toward living your current dreams.
3. You're a bit of a vagabond
Some of us don't stick in one spot for long, and that's OK. If you're someone who frequently moves for your career or any other reason, owning a home is a huge hindrance to the flexibility you require to do your thing. Besides, as anyone who moves frequently will tell you, once you've paid closing costs and real estate agent fees, it's easy to watch a good chunk of your equity disappear.
4. Your relationship is on shaky ground
Even interest rates below 3% should not prod you to purchase a home with someone you're not confident you'll be with five years from now. There are no guarantees, no matter how in love you are. But if you're fighting with your significant other, don't trust them, or are otherwise seeing red flags, you're better off renting than feeling locked in by buying property together.
5. Your lifestyle would change in a less-than-pleasant way
Let's say your rental neighborhood offers a gym and pool where you can work out before heading off to work, or you've become so friendly with your neighbors that they feel like family. If leaving what you have feels like a sacrifice, take time to consider if it's the right move for you.
6. You feel like you "have to"
Nothing means you must purchase a home -- ever. If the only reason you've considered becoming a homeowner is because it's expected of you, let go of other people's expectations. If someone tells you homeownership is the best way to build wealth, smile and know they're wrong. It is possible to build equity in a home, but it's also possible to lose equity. If that sounds a lot like investing, that's because both come with risks, costs, and rewards.
Your life is your life, and there is no single way to do things right. For some people, buying a home is a must, a way to feel grounded. For others, there are more pressing priorities. It all boils down to finding what makes you happy and discovering the best way to create financial stability -- even if you pay some rent.