The age-old question of whether to rent or buy continues in today’s housing market, giving each individual or couple considering a purchase a reason to reconsider. From USA Today, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased slightly this week from 4.23 to 4.28 percent. These numbers indicate we are still at historically low levels, but the increase may indicate a shift in the market. Economists are expecting home prices to continue rising this year, but at a gradual pace to somewhere around 5%. Although the market is still far below the pre-recession numbers of five percent and higher, many Americans are still fighting their way out of debt in an unsteady market – thus making the purchase of a home extremely difficult. Owning a home also presents the problem of numerous unexpected expenses that many families forget to budget for, including insurance and upkeep costs. By 2015, the National Association of Home Builders predicts the average US home will have a size of about 2,152 square feet, and the expected costs for such a home is somewhere around $250,000. The annual cost for a homeowner’s insurance policy with an average home would be estimated at $875. By and large a homeowner should be ready to spend one to four percent of a home’s value annually on maintenance and repairs, and this number tends to increase as the house ages. The heating/cooling ventilation systems in a home are expected to last about 10 to 15 years, but replacing them can end up costing you several thousands of dollars, and always seem to occur during poor weather conditions. However, we’ve reported on the rental market heating up with the rental vacancy rate dropping to 8.2 percent at the end of 2013. This rate reflects the percentage of units that, at any given time, aren’t being occupied. Renting a home evades these costly repairs, and renting insurance is typically less than $30 a month in the Birmingham, AL area. Hiring a professional to assist you in finding the right rental property is a key step in finding that perfect place to live in that doesn’t also break the bank. Contact us today for more information.