Buy or Rent? That is the question.

Real Estate Agent with Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living

Not sure if you should buy or rent?

There are several ways to come up with an answer to this question. You have to start by asking yourself a few very important questions. 


Will you be financing the home?

Of course your financial situation may dictate which options are available to you so it's important to talk with a great loan officer to get pre-approved. Sometimes this process identifies problems with you credit that you had no idea existed, like a past medical bill or overdue parking tickets. It's best to get an good understanding of your credit situation before starting the home buying process. You certainly don't want to go out and look at homes that you can't afford to buy. 


Are you a First Time Home Buyer?

If you are a First Time Home Buyer, you may not be aware of the many benefits of owning a home. I have spelled them out for you in a blog titled, Should You Buy A Home? These benefits may or may not outweigh the benefits of renting in your situation, but it's good to know what they are so you can make an educated decision. 


How long will you live in your next home?

This is an important factor to consider. Zillow recently did an analysis they call a breakeven horizon which looks at the time you must stay in a home before the cost of renting exceeds the costs of buying. Take a look at some of the maps I've pulled from their research site

USA Breakeven Horizon Map - Zillow

In this national map, you can get a quick glimpse at the areas that are orange and dark blue that are on the low and high ends of the breakeven range. Let's take a look at the Breakeven Horizons for some Washington DC Metropolitan Area Counties. I've added several of the county maps below. 


Washington DC has some distinct areas that cover many adjacent neighborhoods and zip codes. It looks like it is color blocked in 4-5 distinct regions.

Washington DC Breakeven Horizon - Zillow

Montgomery County in Maryland appears to have two small areas that stand out from the others in the county. 

In Virginia, I've listed three counties for you to view. Arlington County in Virginia is almost entirely one date range. 

Fairfax County in Virginia is spread over only three breakeven periods, but is mostly within two breakeven ranges with a few small areas in the 10-20 year range. 

And Loudoun County in Virginia appears to range from a 3-10 year breakeven horizon. 

If you aren't sure how long you might be living in the home, it might be good to talk with an experienced exclusive buyers agent to see what the inventory and turnover rates are in particular neighborhoods. If you might be relocating in the future, it's a good idea to understand how long homes sit on the market before selling. 

Of course your individual circumstances will give you different results to the question of whether to buy or rent, but I hope this blog helps you understand what questions to ask in your search for an answer. 

If you are thinking about buying a home in the DC Metropolitan Area, give me a call to Get Started


Posted by


Dana Hollish Hill
REALTOR * Broker * Coach 
JPAR Stellar Living
800 S Frederick Ave, Suite 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20877
office 301.944.9070  
cell  202.271.5301

Comments (8)

Ronald DiLalla
Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824 - Anaheim, CA
No. Orange Cty Real Estate

Hi Dana, lot of questions to be answered before this decision is made.

Jul 21, 2015 03:04 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Dana - you have printed a common sense approach.  It does not always pay to buy but you need the cost benefit analysis.


Jul 21, 2015 03:10 AM
Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Great post every potential home buyer should educate themselves before making a decision to buy or rent. Thanks for sharing I hope you have a great afternoon.

Jul 21, 2015 03:25 AM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach

Ronald - There sure are. 

Grant - As an Exclusive Buyer Agent, I wish it was best for everyone to buy, but it's really not always the best answer for everyone. 

Pat - You have a great afternoon as well. 


Jul 21, 2015 05:39 AM
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


You pose a great question . . . . Should you buy of should you . . .  A real estate professional will help to guild the customer through the home buying process.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jul 21, 2015 03:37 PM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I would add, are you truly ready for the experience and responsibility of home ownership? You can't call the landlord anymore.

Jul 22, 2015 06:11 AM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach

Joe - Absolutely a crucial question to ask before buying. 

Lou - We certainly help people with these questions all the time. 


Aug 03, 2015 02:29 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

The decision ''buy vs rent'' can be especially difficult for millennials ( 18-35 y.old) since they often saddled with student loan debt. If you live is Los Angeles or similar high cost city, it can be challenging to find affordable housing. 

Feb 20, 2017 03:45 PM