Renting vs. Buying
By Scott Gardner, CAPS, CPM
2002 National Apartment Association President
The following are a few major talking points that are worth considering should you find yourself in a debate on the merits of renting vs. buying.
Escalating Debt.A growing number of economists worry that the current level of consumer debt-including mortgage debt-is unhealthy and cannot be sustained. A pending consumer credit crash could usher in the next recession or prolong the current economic slump. We learned that lesson the hard way during the mid-1980's when low and even no down payment mortgages led to an increase in foreclosures when the economy turned down.
Today the warnign signs are mounting. Low and no down payment mortgages are back; marginal households are being pushed into purchasing homes; and consumer credit is near an all-time high. Americans hold more than $700 billion in hom equity loans and have cashed out more than $100 billion from their homes by refinancing. No one gains when people are put into a financial situation they cannot sustain, and the economic signs suggest now is not the time to push the homeownership (and credit) envelope.
Public Policy.Not only is the inexorable homeownership push questionable economic policy; it also is questionable public policy. Each year, taxpayers support more than $100 billion for our numerous federal homeownership incentives, yet more than 16 million low-income househlds pay more than 30 persent of their income for their housing. Millions more moderate-income working families cannot afford to live anywhere near where they work.
Affordable Housing.More than new homeowmers, the country needs a federal commitment to expand the supply of affordable rental housing to meet these needs. The Congressionally-charted Millennial Housing Commission came to the same conclusion after 18 months of research and hearings. Its recommendations to Congress focused heavily on the importance of rental housing, because apartments are uniquely qualified to solve a long list of modern day issues, such as urban decay, suburban sprawl and housing our teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters.
Stronger Communities.The drive behind the national homeownership push reflects, in part, the idea that communities of owners are stronger. But academic studies and practical experience suggest otherwise. Communities that balance their rental and ownership housing stock are stronger, while communities that limit the number of renters jeopardize their economic prosperity. Renters are vital to local businesses as both customers and employees, and communities without an adequate supply of affordable rental housing will fail to attract top employers to their area.
Never before has there been a better time for Americans to choose to rent.
Print the "Renting Makes Sense" flyer