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Question worth pondering: To buy or not to buy?


More renters across Central Oregon are looking into the prospect of giving up paying rent for paying a home mortgage. Many local financial and mortgage experts agree that in today’s market, it is very possible to get a mortgage that is less than monthly rent.

“All things held constant, it’s better to be a buyer,” said financial analyst Bill Valentine, president of Valentine Ventures LLC.

“Being a buyer of a house is good, on a number of levels,” he said Thursday. “It establishes good credit, it gives you the sense of ownership, it gives you an asset you will hopefully be able to sell for a profit down the road.”

In Bend, housing prices are about 50 percent lower now than five years ago. For many people, the price of renting can be higher than the price of a home mortgage.

“Between 2003 and 2007 in Bend, the opposite was the case. Home ownership was demonstrably more expensive than being a renter like two to one,” Valentine said.

However, one of the most difficult decisions to make when buying a home is whether to buy at all.

“The easiest way to do it is to talk to a lander, mortgage broker or a mortgage banker,” said Valentine. “They’ll help you understand how much home you can roughly afford to buy, and what that equates to you in a monthly payment going forward.”

Chris Starling is a mortgage advisor for the Arbor Mortgage Group in Bend, and his job is to help people with the home-buying process.

“The first thing I would ask is, how long do you plan on being here? Do you plan on being in the area for a couple of years? Or are you trying to move on?,” said Starling.

He believes that the most ideal candidate for purchasing a new home is someone who plans to stay in the same location for more than a couple years.

Starling also recommends that any prospective buyer have had a steady income over the past three years and have a history of making payments on time, as well as have some money reserved for some the possibility of maintenance.

“Once you’re a homeowner, if the water heater goes out, that’s your expense now. You can’t pick up the phone for the landlord,” said Starling.

In the end, both Startling and Valentine believe that home ownership is a worthy investment.

“If they’re on the fence, the benefits to home ownership exceed the benefits to renting, and my advice would be to be a homeowner,” Valentine said.

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