Why Renting Can Be Your Best Bet

Sutton Stokes writes about renting versus owningIs buying always superior to renting? Not always, and in a down market, not when it comes to selling.

Writer Sutton Stokes recently shared his saga with The Washington Times Communities. He and his wife went from renting to owning, to selling -- and waiting. In his words, "our decision to 'stop throwing money away on rent' will have cost us almost $10,000 we wouldn't have spent otherwise."

Meanwhile, his home still hasn't sold.

I caught up with Sutton and asked him how the experience altered his outlook.
Rented Spaces: How did your view of renting change after buying and then selling your house in Missoula, Montana?

I went from thinking of buying as an "inherent good" to something that is only appropriate in specific situations, at least from a financial point of view. Personally, I can think of lots of good reasons to rent: you're less tied to one place and can more easily move to find work; someone else has to worry about the plumbing and roof; etc. On the other hand, I can't say I regret buying the house in Missoula. It wasn't a given that we'd be leaving, so it might have made sense from a financial point of view after all. And my wife and I genuinely enjoy some of the work that goes into home ownership. But anyone who doesn't enjoy home maintenance might want to think twice.

What were some of the biggest lessons learned from the experience?

To make selling as easy as possible, you really need to get to work fixing up a house after you've bought it. It's no longer quite as easy to sell a house with flaws (like old wiring, say), because of how much more scrutiny banks are applying.

Do you rent or own right now? Are you happy with this decision?

Own. Yes, happy with it. We hope to stay in this town for a while, and we're fixing the place up just the way we want it.

Do you think attitudes are changing regarding the idea that homeownership is always the best solution? Would you say your attitude has changed?

My attitude has changed, and I will definitely speak up if, say, I hear my little brother say he's "tired of throwing money away on rent." You're buying something with your rent -- it's not a house, but it could be flexibility, peace of mind, and a refuge against sudden expensive emergency repairs. That's not nothing.

True. That may be why more people are staying renters by choice these days. Thanks, Sutton.

Also at AOL Real Estate.
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