Its a question I am asked every single day: should I buy or rent? The answer is: there is no obvious answer right now.

Katie Benner at writes a good piece on this in the issues facing renters and buyers. For either direction, the costs are rising.

Buy outlook

  • Mortgage costs are rising
  • Mortgage options are less certain
  • Housing prices are still rising (albeit more slowly)
  • Sellers are still in denial

Rent outlook

  • Rents are rising after years of falling or stagnant rates
  • Condo conversions have syphoned off the suppy of rentals
  • Developers are having difficulty making new rental development feasible.

A recent report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies shows that buying may still be the best choice. With interest rates rising and speculative demand cooling, the report says that the housing boom is under pressure, but prices will continue to climb as long as the economy keeps creating jobs and builders trim production to match slowing demand.


I really think it comes down to motivation, demographic and timing constraints rather than a yes or no. Short term outlook likely favors the rental scenario right now, especially for entry-level buyers. The switch that renters made to home ownership during the boom was fueled by low mortgage rates. Mid-market demographics probably still favors the buy right now but just barely – not for short term financial but for long term occupancy, raising families, etc. High-end usually favors the buy but its fraught with issues of over supply as this was the favorite market that developers catered to during the housing boom.

I guess another element of people pausing to make this decision now is the fact that it was a solid buy decision from 1998 to about 2004 and everyone in the market has been conditioned to think this way. Now its not so clear.

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