By Bruce Cathcart

We are all faced with the decision of whether to rent a home or purchase one at sometime in our lives.  Do we pursue the American dream and the pride of homeownership or do we maintain the freedom and flexibility afforded by renting our home?  The Internet is full of articles containing advice, mathematical formulas, and opinions on the subject, but the author’s bias is often evident and they seem somewhat impersonal to me.

If we simply “crunch the numbers”, today’s historically low interest rates combined with relatively low home prices when compared to current rental rates for similar properties makes it a no brainer; purchasing a home is by far the more cost effective choice.  But in my experience making the decision to rent or to buy a home is based on much more than just economics. The decision to rent or buy is a personal decision and unique to each individual’s situation which boils down to timing, timing, timing!

Homeownership represents stability, responsibility, and in most cases a long-term commitment.  As young adults when we first leave the family nest (either voluntarily or on the end of a boot) we are concerned with our initial goals of getting an education, a good job or career, and finding a spouse.  Buying a home is one of the last things on our minds.  The timing is just not right to be a homeowner yet.  And we all know some people who seem to spend their entire life avoiding responsibility and long-term commitments.  For these folks the timing must be both philosophically and psychologically right and for various reasons the timing for these folks to buy a home may never be right!  But for the rest of us, once we have accomplished our initial goals the timing to buy a home must also be financially right.  We must have a steady job or career with a decent and reliable income that does not require moving every other year, plus enough cash in savings to cover the down payment and closing costs associated with the purchase of a home.  There are many people who either never achieve this level of financial stability in their lives or choose to live a more wanderlust lifestyle that keeps them from buying a home.  But once again, for the rest of us, once we reach this level of financial stability the timing of the real estate market itself has to be right.  Home prices have to be affordable; financing has to be available and there has to an adequate supply of homes for sale on the market.  Timing, timing, timing!


According to a Gallup poll 62% of Americans currently own their own home and according to J.P. Morgan Chase 87% of Americans say that homeownership is still one of their main goals in life.  It is easy to see why since owning your own home can add stability, represents financial security, and gives you greater degree of control over your life when compared to renting your home.  But in the final analysis the timing has to be right and that is a decision that each of us must make for ourselves.

This week’s real estate tip:  If the timing in your life is not right for you to buy a home and you are looking to rent a house (or condo), contact a local real estate broker or agent.  Not all real estate professionals assist renters but many do. This is a free service to renters provided by local brokers and agents and they can provide you access to many properties that would not otherwise be available to you plus you will get the benefit of their real estate expertise, advice, and assistance at every step of the rental process.

Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “The Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at or visit his website at