Whether you are considering buying a home for your retirement or renting one, you have pros and cons to weigh on both sides…
Upgrades and repairs: For renters, from leaking roofs to broken HVAC systems, landlords are responsible for upgrades and repairs when things break, fail or wear out. In terms of cost and convenience, it’s probably the renter’s biggest advantage.
For homeowners, the standard “1% rule” says to set aside 1% of your home’s value annually for maintenance—that’s $2,500 a year for a $250,000 home. According to American Family Insurance (AFI), the average homeowner’s cost of repairs and general maintenance is $170 a month, or $10,200 over five years.
Budgeting: Renting makes the rest of your budgeting easier. Housing is the average retiree’s biggest expense. When you don’t have to pay for home-improvement projects and unforeseen maintenance issues, your housing costs don’t fluctuate, which makes budgeting for all your living expenses easier.
For homeowners, maintenance and repairs are far from the only costs to consider. Owning a home comes with additional expenses that add up quickly…
Homeowner Association (HOA) fees: $250 a month/$15,000 over five years.
Private mortgage insurance: $160/$9,600.
Homeowners insurance: $80/$4,800.
Property taxes: $220/$13,200.
Relocating: For renters, if you decide to relocate, it will be easier to move out as a tenant versus as a homeowner.
Building equity: Renters build someone else’s equity. They pay rent while they live somewhere and move out when they’re done, with nothing to show for the money they have spent.
Homeowners build their own equity. A home is an investment that grows with every mortgage payment and every improvement project. You can tap the equity you build in a variety of ways—including HELOCs, home-equity loans, reverse mortgages and cash-out refinancing—to pay for health-care costs or living expenses. Or you could keep your equity intact and leave the home to your heirs.
Making it a home. Homeowners can make any upgrades that they see fit throughout retirement. When done well, those upgrades will force appreciation and build even more equity. Even if no monetary value is added, homeowners have the freedom to shape their living spaces to suit their tastes. Owning a home can give retirees a sense of stability, security, pride and the good feeling of being a homeowner.
Rental leases often forbid renters from making certain changes—big things such as the ability to have a pet or smaller ones, such as not drilling holes in the walls to hang pictures.
Tax benefits. Homeowners can deduct their mortgage interest payments on loans up to $750,000, but that’s not the only tax benefit that renters forfeit. Many states offer an assortment of rebates, credits and deductions to seniors who own their own homes, whether they’re retired or not. Hundreds of such tax breaks are available nationwide. To find tax breaks in your area, contact your state’s comptroller or tax authority office.