Rent or buy? This detailed calculator helps you figure it out

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If you've saved up tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment, or even the funds to make an all-cash home purchase, you may want to reconsider: in today's spiking market, it may actually be smarter just to rent.

The New York Times analyzed cities with booming, expensive housing markets (think New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles), and found that, since home prices have risen so far so fast, renting could be the smarter financial option. 

More to the point, the publication has a rent vs. buy calculator that's pretty exhaustive as far as these things go. Not only can you input big-ticket items like mortgage costs and the time you plan to live in a place, but you can also factor in expenses like renter's insurance and monthly maintenance fees. 

Above, the New York Times rent vs. buy calculator 

In one example, the Times notes, if you can find a rental for less than $1,956 per month, you'd spend less than if you bought a place for $500,000 and lived there for seven years. Despite low interest rates and prices that are still below the 2006 peak, "the costs of owning a home--property taxes, repairs, fees to real-estate agents and mortgage interest--may outweigh the financial benefits, including the tax break" on mortgage interest payments, the Times writes. 

Still, it's a bit surprising, Brownstoner notes, given the way Brooklyn rents have spiked right alongside selling prices, but it might make good sense not to buy when prices are arguably a little inflated. No one wants to end up turning their bathroom into a nursery, after all.


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