Is It Better to Buy a House or Rent?

Larry Burkett
For some people it may be more advantageous to rent than it is to buy a home, but if you can afford to buy you probably will be better off in the long run. However, 90 percent of the people who would like to own their home cannot qualify to buy one, so they are forced to rent. One of the advantages of buying a home, even with a mortgage, is that you can fix the cost of the home, other than the taxes.

Many people buy or build a house and then try to stretch their income to fit the house rather than starting with their income and finding a house that fits it. The Bible says, "Prepare your work outside and make it ready for yourself in the field; afterwards, then, build your house" (Proverbs 24:27).

There are a number if things you should consider when buying a house.
  • Be realistic and start small.

  • Be willing to keep the first house five or six years and put love and labor into it.

  • When trading up, buy a house no larger than you need with payments you can afford.

  • Free some surplus funds each month to repay on the mortgage principal in order to pay the mortgage off as quickly as possible.
You would be wise to use no more than 40 percent of your Net Spendable Income (what's left after Tithes and Taxes) on Housing. This includes your house payments, taxes, insurance, utilities, and telephone bill, along with maintenance on the home.

The closer your Housing expenses are to 45 to 50 percent of your Net Spendable Income, the greater the likelihood that you will encounter serious financial difficulty. Couples often purchase homes far more expensive than they could afford and then not only lose the homes but also have their marriages threatened by the resulting stress.

Each family should learn God's principles and guidelines for buying a home and then make the decision based on what God specifically reveals to them about the lifestyle they are to lead. Many people can downsize their housing situation and still have a nice, comfortable, affordable home.

Should I make paying off my mortgage a priority?

As I mentioned above, I encourage all Christians to retire their home mortgages and any other personal indebtedness they may have as soon as possible, not just on the basis of what is logical but on the basis of what God's Word says. "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave" (Proverbs 22:7).

However, although biblical principles and logical guidelines should be considered, each family must make a decision according to God's specific plan for them. Because of the many variables affecting individual families, there is no standard answer about paying off a mortgage.

Your decision concerning rapid repayment of a mortgage may depend on many different factors.
  • How long will you plan to stay in your home?

  • What kind of retirement savings do you have?

  • What amount of surplus funds do you have available to apply toward the prepayment of your home?

  • How much have you saved for education costs?
You shouldn't sacrifice everything to pay off your home. There may be other things that are higher priorities in your family. You and your spouse need to make this decision together and use no more than a percentage (not all) of your surplus funds if you do decide to pay off your home early. "The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps"(Proverbs 16:9).

Be sure that your decision -- the steps you take -- are God-directed steps.

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