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How to Compare Rent to Mortgage Payments

Rent payments vs. mortgage payments… what’s the difference?

Tax Savings LessonThe biggest difference is that a lease is simply a license to occupy someone else’s property, and your monthly payments contribute to the property owner’s financial future – not your own.

Over the years, I’ve found that many renters know about the tax benefits of owning in theory, but they have no idea what it could mean to them in real dollars.  That’s why I created this guide for you to estimate your approximate tax savings and the “real cost of owning.”

Begin by gathering the information for Lines 1-5 (image on the right) before you get started. 

If you don’t know the property tax amount, look for it on the MLS printout or ask your agent; if you don’t know your Federal and State income tax rates, ask your tax preparer or estimate it using your most recent tax returns.

Now follow these simple steps: 

 6.  Estimate your annual interest amount by multiplying your loan principal amount (Line 1) x your interest rate (Line 3) = $__________

 7.  Estimate the total of deductible items by adding your annual property tax amount (Line 4) and your annual interest amount (Line 6) = $__________

 8.  Estimate your annual tax savings by multiplying your total of deductible items (Line 7) by your combined income tax rate (Line 5) = $__________

 9.  Estimate your monthly tax savings by simply dividing the annual amount (Line 8) by 12 = $__________

10.  Estimate your “net mortgage payment” by subtracting your estimated monthly tax savings (Line 9) from your monthly mortgage payment (Line 2) = $__________

Now compare your “net mortgage payment” (Line 10) $__________
with your monthly rent payment $__________
to see how the cost of home ownership compares with the cost of renting.

Wait, there’s more!

If you want to carry this a step farther, you can also consider any equity growth that occurs through paying down the loan balance each year.

Homework11.  You need to know the P&I portion of your monthly payment = $__________

12.  Estimate your annual principal reduction by deducting your annual interest payment (Line 6) from your monthly P&I (Line 11) = $__________

13.  Recalculate your “net mortgage payment” by adding your estimated monthly tax savings (Line 9) and your estimated annual principal reduction (Line 12) $__________ and subtracting the total from your monthly mortgage payment (Line 2) = $__________

Now compare this revised “net mortgage payment” with your current rent.

I’m betting the two numbers are closer than you expected! 

If this inspires you to take a look at homes for sale, just click on SEARCH FOR HOMES.

NOTE:  If this were a market in which we could realistically anticipate appreciation in property values, I would suggest another step in comparing rent to mortgage payments – estimating the impact of appreciation on the “real cost of owning.”  Since this is not the case in 2009, I will not address this step now. 


DISCLAIMER:  This is for illustration purposes based on Year 1 of home ownership vs. renting and you should consult your own tax and legal advisors to determine if this formula is accurate for your personal tax situation.  I am not an accountant or an attorney and this should not be interpreted as accounting or legal advice.


Copyright 2009.  All rights reserved.  “How to Compare Rent to Mortgage Payments”  – Margaret Woda


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