Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rent vs. Buy: NY Times Leonhardt Buys

by Calculated Risk on 5/27/2008 10:44:00 PM

From David Leonhardt at the NY Times: As Home Prices Drop Low Enough, a Committed Renter Decides to Buy

The case for renting has been simple enough. House prices rose so high in the first half of this decade that you could often get more for your money by renting. You could also avoid having a large part of your net worth tied up in a speculative bubble.

All this time, I have been a renter myself, ... [but] the housing market has, obviously, changed quite a bit since our last move, in 2005.
...
This month, we found a house that we really liked, and we made an offer. It was accepted.

I’m still not sure how good our timing was. Based on the backlog of houses on the market, I fully expect that our new house will be worth less in six months than it is today. ...

In fact, if you’re now renting — almost anywhere — and do not need to move, I’d probably recommend that you wait to buy. The market is still coming your way.

But it’s O.K. with me if our timing wasn’t perfect.
Leonhardt isn't buying for appreciation, and he realizes the price will probably still decline further. He is buying because prices have fallen enough that the intangibles of homeownership (as he and his wife value them) outweigh the extra costs of owning a home compared to renting.

The article also has an interactive rent vs. buy tool with a number of options.