Whether you're looking to buy or rent ... it's important to weigh all of your options before signing on the dotted line. To help evaluate the pros and cons of the real estate market- Bankrate.com talked to a recent buyer and renter.
"I only have a ten minute walk to the metro which takes me directly into Washington D.C., it's the last stop on the metro, so still it's a thirty minute commute. But just because I can walk to it, it increases the rent price by a lot."
Elizabeth has been renting for almost two years and knows that location plays a huge role in the cost of rent. While renting has the benefits of facilities and flexibility.
"Why would you buy a home if you don't know where you're going to be living in the same place in a year? That's one of the better things about renting, you have more options of moving and changing your life."
Unexpected utility fees can be a hassle.
"In the complex I have to pay my own electricity, my own energy which is gas. I have to pay for my internet, my phone and my cable."
"The only thing that's included in my rent is my water and my garbage but even though they say it's included my rent fluctuates every month according to how much water the complex uses."
On the buying side of the spectrum ... doing your research goes a long way.
"I spent a couple of months looking around and it really became a landlords market. The rents are so inflated right now." "I went to a mortgage calculator put in about the price of the places I was looking to rent to see if I could possibly afford one and sure enough I could."
Kevin purchased his home on the west coast and found out quickly that location drove the cost up.
"It's a pretty upscale town that I live in so I definitely had to compromise some of my wants and needs in a home in order to afford the city that I'm living in."
Buying has the benefit of working towards ownership but it also has its downsides.
"It was a short sale too, I didn't mention that. So it was kind of a nightmare process, I called it the not-so-short sale." "It's quite a technical and long process and was a lot of headaches."
In this economy ... it comes down to a judgment call.
"There's not a one size fits all answer between renting or buying. It really depends upon your individual circumstances and your needs. People that are looking to stay put for a while can certainly benefit from home ownership particularly at today's values. On the other hand if you need flexibility to move up to move around or just pick up and go at a short notice that's where renting has its advantages."
To see what is your best option, check out the mortgage tab on Bankrate.com. Our renting vs. buying calculator can help determine what you can best afford.
I'm Theresa Heintz.