Making the leap from renting to buying

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Making the leap from renting to buying

22 Jan 2015

Buying a home for the first time is a big decision, and all the aspects of this financial and long-term commitment should be weighed up carefully, including whether buying or renting will put you in a better financial position.

There are advantages to both renting and owning your own house. Make sure you take in all the different aspects when doing your sums and where you are in your life currently to make the decision.

This is according to Simphiwe Madikizela, head of projects at FNB Housing Finance, who says there are many different aspects to take into account when considering buying, this is especially true in the affordable housing market where 96% of their customers are first-time buyers.

He says this means that almost all their customers are making the leap from renting to buying for the first time. 

Madikizela shares a few guidelines that outline the fundamental differences between renting and buying:

Finances when buying

How you are faring financially is possibly the most important factor when deciding to buy a home for the first time.

Financially, there is a big difference between renting and buying.

Buying a home attracts upfront costs, which need to be budgeted for. For example, a R500 000 home will attract R10 000 in bond costs, which is the amount payable to register the bond with the Deeds Office. While there is no transfer duty on this amount, which is the tax owed to SARS, there are still transfer costs of R12 100, which are the fees paid to the conveyancing agency for their services.

If you secure an interest rate of prime plus one (10.25%), your monthly repayments on a R500 000 home will be R4 900. 

However, Madikizela says these are not your only monthly costs. As a homeowner, he says you are also responsible for rates and taxes, levies (if your home is in a complex), water and electricity, as well as household insurance for the goods plus the structure.

He says over and above the bond, you should budget a little extra, to be safe.

Maintenance of the property is up to the homeowner. If you are buying, make sure that you budget for ongoing maintenance, so set aside money every month for unforeseen issues such as a leak or painting your home. This will ensure that you don’t go into debt to keep your house in good order. 

Finances when renting

When renting a property, you will need to provide a deposit, which is normally a month’s rent, in addition to the rent for your first month. This deposit is used to cover any damage when you leave the unit or house.

Once the deposit is paid, you will only be responsible for paying your rent and utility bills and electricity and water on a monthly basis, or as set out in your lease agreement.

Madikizela says it is important for renters to also note that they will, in the majority of cases, be expected to have their own household insurance in place. He says this is to cover your own personal goods that are in the rented house in the event of a burglary or a fire.

However, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to have his or her own building insurance, which covers the actual structure of the flat, he says.

Assessing whether renting or buying is the best decision for you

“This will never be an entirely straightforward decision. If you are able to afford the bond and the additional monthly payments as well as the money for added costs then you are probably in a good position to buy.”

Furthermore, Madikizela says although the bond repayments may seem steep in the beginning, in most cases, after a few years, your income position will be stronger and towards the end of the 20 year period, the bond will not have increased with inflation, you should afford the repayments easily, as well as have an increase in capital value of the actual home.

When will renting put you in a better financial position?

Madikizela says there are a few factors that go into renting. He says one is your long-term position; do you move around a lot, are you planning on travelling or taking a break from your employment at any stage?

Buying is a long-term commitment, and it isn’t an easy process to sell a house, which may actually put you on a financial back foot if you have to sell in a relatively short period.

However, he says if you are renting, you could build up your financial position with the outlook to one day be a homeowner.


There are advantages to both renting and owning your own house, Madikizela says.  Make sure you take in all the different aspects when doing your sums and where you are in your life currently to make the decision. 

Author: Simphiwe Madikizela, head of projects at FNB Housing Finance

Submitted 26 Jan 15 / Views 5530