06/07/2012 07:32 EDT | Updated 08/07/2012 05:12 EDT

Ask a Realtor: Should I Just Rent in This Market?


"Ask a Realtor" appears Thursdays. Have a real estate question for Susanne? Please email her at, and she will publish and answer the questions of most general interest.

Q: Should I continue to rent, or is buying a better option in this market?

Renting is always an option but the allure of owning your own home is hard to beat! And over the long run owning a home that is appreciating in value is a good investment. Where else can you enjoy the comfort of an investment and pay no capital gains when you cash out?

Many people enjoy renting and find it carefree. No repairs to pay for, no lawn to cut, no snow to shovel. But if that is your goal, perhaps sell the house and buy a condo, a co-op or a loft!

When you rent, your landlord might be slow to do repairs or might list the house for sale when you are a tenant. The new owner has to keep you as a tenant until the end of your lease but they may not renew your lease if they want to live in the house themselves. If you rent part of a house, the same thing applies. If you're in a duplex, for example, and they want to convert the house to a single family dwelling or put a relative in your unit, then you're out at the end of your lease. If you have a month-to-month tenancy then they just have to give you two month's notice if the same conditions above apply. Most people don't want this insecurity. They want the decision to move to be their own.

The joys of owning your own place are numerous -- the privacy, the fact that you can decorate it the way you want, the fun of planning improvements, a garden etc. Yes, there are many costs involved, but if you work from home you can write off part of your living expenses, part of the interest you pay on your mortgage, part of your heat, hydro, repairs etc. To a lesser degree you can also write off part of your expenses if you rent.

So what to buy and where? It depends on your ability to pay but also what your needs are. If you're a young single you might want a condo or a loft in an area where there are like-minded singles. If you have a child, you probably want a backyard so a house -- semi or detached -- is maybe what you're looking for. Or maybe a townhouse. If you have kids in school or preschool, looking for areas with good schools is usually top of mind. If you're renting there is more chance that you will be moving at some point and your child will be changing schools. If they're older, they'll be leaving friends behind.

If you're an empty nester you probably still want some green space so a condo with a terrace or a small house or townhouse is maybe for you. Renting or owning are both good options as maybe it's time to cash out. Whatever you decide take the time you need to decide what is best for you at this stage!