Buy or rent? You might be surprised

Published 8:57 pm Thursday, April 9, 2015

By Domenick Epps

“Hi, homeowner!” I post these two words on several social media outlets each day to encourage those who are excited about becoming a homeowner.

I grew up in the projects of Saratoga, when the neighborhood had Suffolk’s highest crime rating. My mother was a single parent who raised four boys, while at some points working three jobs at a time, all while renting.

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Each month on the first, I can recall playing football in the yard and seeing the landlord pull up. He would go from apartment building to apartment building, from house to house, collecting rent. Not once while we were living in a single-family home or when we were staying in an apartment did anyone come to talk about home ownership.

It seemed farfetched. But why? Why was it farfetched when my mom worked three jobs and was able to afford to pay rent?

If someone can afford a rental payment, chances are they can afford a mortgage payment. Every landlord rents for a profit. The margin of the profit varies, but every landlord with a mortgage on the property being rented charges a higher rent than his mortgage payment. So if someone can afford a $900 monthly rent payment, then that individual could certainly afford a mortgage payment.

Fear may be a big reason that some continue renting, but I believe a lack of education is the root cause of fear.

Consider this example: A tenant is paying $1,000 a month for a three-bedroom, two-bath home. The neighborhood is great, and they have been in that home for 10 years and the landlord only went up three times on the rent. So inflation doesn’t seem to affect them as much. Now in 10 years that tenant has paid $120,000 in rent.

They have nothing to show for that money. No tax breaks for depreciation or improvements. Nothing but an agreement to pay or get evicted.

Rent-versus-buy has been a topic of discussion for quite some time.

There are pros and cons for both, but if the issue is about affordability, a mortgage, hands down, is cheaper. Does it come with more responsibility? Yes! But the responsibility is outweighed by one’s ability to leave an inheritance.

Of course there are qualifications one must have to receive an approval, but one can easily start a plan and work toward it.

Hi, homeowner!

Domenick Epps is a Suffolk resident, real estate agent and youth pastor. Email him at