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This article is all about what you should know if you are planning to rent or purchase a home. No matter where you are on the journey, there are many ideas listed here to help you on your search. As you might expect, there are different things to look for depending on whether you plan on renting or buying. Don’t jump into either situation until you have done your research and feel comfortable with your decision.
Let’s first look at the idea of renting a place for you and your children. Before I continue, did you know that if you are a single parent, you may qualify for financial help for housing from the government? Be sure to check out the resources tab at the top of the page for more details! There are also some non profit organizations that may be able to help you. Is there a Salvation Army located near you?
First of all, let’s look at this from the angle of a landlord. If you were a landlord, what kind of person would you want renting your property? First and foremost, I think we can agree that any landlord is most interested in finding tenants who are going to make the rent payments when they’re due. How is your credit score? Do you currently have proof of income? These are things that should be in place before you consider renting. But I already know you’ve got your finances under control, so you can go ahead and skip that step! Let’s look at some other topics you should consider prior to taking the plunge into the renting world.
I know. You’re about to lecture me because we have already established the fact that you have a job and you’re being financially intelligent when it comes to looking at potential properties to rent. However, there is a difference between a necessity and having a list of wants. If you’re on the fence between two places, and one has everything (and more) on your list of wants, but the other place has everything you need and it’s cheaper, friend, take my advice. If you have everything needed in the cheaper option, choose it. Having said that, though, don’t settle for garbage. Many landlords require a security deposit in addition to the first month’s rent. Are you prepared for that? There are plenty of benefits for choosing an affordable option and one of my favorites is that you can invest any remaining money at month’s end - and let that money make more money for you!
So you think you have it all figured out, right? You’ve got your eye on a really great property. It checks all the necessary boxes and it’s within your price range. That may not mean it’s perfect for you (or your kids). Have you researched the neighborhood? What are the demographics or the crime rates? Do you feel safe letting your children play outside or walk to the park alone? Have you walked around the area to know for sure? Have you met any potential neighbors? These are all great things to take into account.
There’s more. What about the fine print? Have you looked at any of the paperwork? What are the requirements on the application? While it may seem like the landlord is cordial and kind, the lease agreement is something that should be understood by both of you. Make sure that if there were agreed upon maintenance issues added to the agreement, they are exactly what you had discussed. If this is the route you’re taking, be sure to request a copy just to have on hand, and don’t discount the benefits of renter’s insurance.
Keep in mind that a good rule of thumb is not to spend more than 30% of your monthly income on rent. Sure, you may be thinking you’re not going to have a problem making your rent payment, but have you researched the other things that will also add up? What about utilities? Will it cost more for water, electric, internet services, etc.? If you’re lucky, you may find it included in your rent. If not, it may help to know what the other expenses are so you can prepare a budget. Just know what’s included in your rent and what you’ll be responsible for in addition to your rent payment.
It’s one thing to have all of the aforementioned items checked off your list. However, in regards to where you work, where your children’s school is, and whether or not you have a car, you may need to think reasonably about the location of your new digs. Are there things within walking distance? Is there a bus service from the local school to pick up your kiddos? Is there a place to park (if you have a vehicle)? What if you have friends over? Will they have places to park? Again, these things are all important and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Where To Look
Obviously, you have the option to purchase your own home, but do you want to? Is it a necessity? If you weigh the options between renting and owning, and where you are at this point in your life, you may very well be landing on the decision to rent. That’s a totally great idea, as long as you are happy with what you’re paying for. On the other hand, if you’re sure you like the area you’re in and you plan to be there for ten or more years, you may find a home to purchase and its mortgage is less than what it would cost you to rent. Let’s look a little deeper into what it takes to own a house and some things to consider before making this commitment.
Some of the same things to consider about renting also fall into play here. Finances. Typically, anywhere from 3%-20% (or 3.5% for an FHA loan) of the home’s purchase price should be expected as a downpayment. You will need to research the area, be sure it’s a safe place and you have a good feeling about it. In doing the research, you’ll want to be sure about the payment calculations and schedule that will be outlined in the paperwork. But as a homeowner, there will be other things to keep in mind.
My personal checklist for a home purchase may be different from yours. However, I’ve put this list together to give you some food for thought before you make up your own mind. Of course, this list can and should be modified if it suits you differently based on your life today.
I know this list is pretty short, but there are things that must not be overlooked or taken into consideration. Where will you come up with money if something needs fixed? Who will you call on for repairs? What’s going to happen if you can’t keep up with the mortgage payments?
Where To Look
Like any large decision in life, it’s best to weigh all your options before landing on one in a haste and regretting later on. While time may be of the essence for you right now, it’s still not wise to rush into anything you’re not comfortable with.
While there will forever be differing opinions on whether a person should rent or own, ultimately, this decision is yours.
Renting can offer you a little more freedom if you’re not planning on living in the area for long. At the same time, you aren’t necessarily responsible for things out of your control; the property’s owner has to foot those bills. On the other hand, if you love the location and you have no plans to leave, you have a great chance of finding something that you’ll be able to pay off over time and you may, eventually, sell it for a profit later on. Just make sure that no matter what you choose, you have done the required research, have sufficient income to maintain the bills, and you are confident that you are making the best decision for you and your kids.
It doesn’t matter if you’re renting a two-bedroom apartment or can afford a two-story home. I’m confident that you’re going to make the most of it and continue raising your children in love and safety. You will make anyplace you land - home.
by Lyric Anders, writer