By Harsh Roongta
Whether to buy aproperty or rent one is an age-old debate and it is unlikely to be settled in a hurry. One can do very sophisticated calculations to show that renting is a smart option. Some equally valid and complicated calculations will show that buying makes more sense. A lot of calculators are available that will assist you in taking this decision.
The more sophisticated among them will take into account the possible appreciation in the property if you buy it, maintenance costs, the potential increase in rent if you rent it out, etc.
Unfortunately, the decision is rarely so straight forward. Firstly, most calculators don’t tell you that this is rarely a one-time decision and it is only as good as the assumptions made. If the assumptions change, your decision should change, too. Unfortunately, while you may put in a lot of research and effort in doing the calculations the first time around, most people are unable to devote the same amount of time on a regular basis to check if their initial assumptions still hold true. More importantly, what most calculators also miss are the intangible benefits of owning your own house.
In a house of your own, you can make personalised changes. Then owning your own house (even with a loan on it) imparts a sense of security to the household. Whilst it is difficult to put a dollar value to such intangible benefits, these are clearly significant.
Take this quick test. Conduct a straw poll in your office or among your friends or your family circle. You are unlikely to find many people who regret having bought a home.
I am sure you will definitely find a few who will talk wistfully of the opportunities missed to buy their own home when it was still affordable and within their reach. In fact, I know of some extremely smart and publicly well-regarded professionals who passed on an opportunity to buy homes being sold by their own employer (after doing some very fancy calculations on paper since it was the pre-computer era). Their other less gifted colleagues did not have the ability to do such calculations and, hence, bought the houses and within just 5-7 years their decision was proven right.
The point I am making is that it is not advisable to do a lot of complicated calculations to decide whether to buy or rent your home. As long as you have made a reasonably long-term commitment (at least 5 years) to the city you reside in and have the necessary down payment amount and your income can afford the EMIs, you should go ahead and buy your home. But before I am accused of being an agent for thereal estate industry (disclosure: most largehome loan lenders advertise on Apnapaisa as also some large realtors, and both together constitute a significant portion of our income), let me quickly add some caveats.
First, this whole logic applies only if you are buying a property to stay since the intangible benefits only accrue if you stay in your home. In other words, you need to do a more thorough analysis if you are buying to rent out a property or use it as a business asset. Secondly, if it were me, I would put in a little more effort and hunt around to buy a ready-to-move-in home rather than take the risk of buying an under-construction property, which come with attendant risks of delays, hidden costs and quality issues.Thirdly, you need to watch out for artificially inflated real estate prices. If the real estate rates look artificially inflated, maybe you can wait for the market to cool before you go ahead and buy.But how do you judge whether the real estate prices are artificially inflated?A rough and ready measure is the rent-to-value ratio. Check around in the area where you are looking to buy a property. In these days of high interest rates, if the annual rent of a house similar to the one you intend to buy is less than 3% of the cost you will need to pay, the prices are clearly inflated. The rental market is telling you that the capital prices may not stick. By this measure, most properties in Mumbai (as also in most parts of Delhi) are clearly overpriced.
This does not mean you shouldn’t buy a property. It only means you have to wait a little to see if the property prices correct.
And if you think you don’t have the resources to either keep track of the movements in rental or property prices, then it is better to buy (even at the “inflated” prices) rather than be sorry later.
The author is CEO Apna Paisa
Source: Economic Times: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/markets/real-estate/realty-trends/owning-a-property-makes-more-sense-than-staying-on-rent/articleshow/9401990.cms?curpg=1