Recently I chatted with Jane Hodges about what the realities of buying vs. renting a home will look like 2013. Jane is a Seattle based business journalist whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, MSNBC.com, HGTV’s Frontdoor.com, and Money Magazine among many others. She has a sassy take on what it means to be a home owner and how American’s view those who own and those who rent. You can learn more about Jane at her web site: JaneHodges.net
Francesca: Jane your new book: RENT vs. OWN, A Real Estate Reality Check for Navigating Booms, Busts, and Bad Advice seems to be the quintessential guide for anyone looking to evaluate their options for purchasing or renting a home. What inspired you to write this book?
Jane: I originally set out to write a book about why single women buy homes at such a higher rate than single men, why that was and what the act of a home purchase seems to mean to the two genders both emotionally and financially.
I realized the questions that interested me about single men and women buying – which had to do with how the two sexes interpret what it means to own a home – had to do with our social attitudes toward our housing. Americans, collectively, were rethinking this.
Francesca: Yes, I think the interpretation differs between men and women. Women need to feel anchored and safe. This is not to say our wanderlust side stops existing. It doesn’t, but its megaphone is softer. The American attitude has been we all need to own our own home when we grow up.
Jane: So in my view, a new book for first-time buyers shouldn’t ask how to buy (it hasn’t changed, fundamentally) but if or whether they should buy or rent. I still think most Americans imagine they will own a home one day, but when and where in life it’s appropriate to do so is changing.
There used to be an idea you buy a place as soon as possible, but now people are realizing owning comes with constraints, and for it to be personally and financially advantageous you need to time your entry carefully – not around the market, but around your life’s particulars.
Francesca: Many of my clients are driven by the market, especially in major metropolitan areas such as the Washington, DC market where I practice. A buyer needs to keep many other factors in mind about how buying a home is going to change their life.
Jane: Since traditional “first-time buyer” books assume the reader has already decided to buy, they gloss over some of the complications or “what it’s really like after you close” scenarios that I think a prospective buyer should hear about upfront.
Francesca: I totally agree with you. It’s important for buyers to be aware of future costs of home ownership such as maintenance, upkeep, and repairs which come along with owning a home.
Jane: My book doesn’t assume you’ve reached conviction, and, indeed, it may make you doubt whether it’s time to buy – right now, anyway. The purpose isn’t to doomsday owning, but make sure the reader really knows what they are getting into from a financial literacy standpoint.
Francesca: Thanks Jane this has been informative. I’ll look forward to you sharing more of your thoughts on buying vs. renting a home as our chat continues.
The conversation with Jane Hodges on the topic of Rent vs. Own continues in upcoming blog posts.
EnJOY and blessings,