Over the years Tom and I have addressed the rent versus own debate many times.

I know some might feel like we are beating a dead horse, but this question always comes up and there are always new buyers debating purchasing versus renting.

Tom and I believe the benefits of owning a home far outweigh the risks.

The ability to pay down the loan entirely or pay it down then refinance for a lower payment are benefits renting can’t compete. Compound the tax benefits and the potential for capital appreciation, and there isn’t much debate.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that homeownership is superior to renting, there remain a few situations where renting is better. Home ownership often requires time for the benefits to become apparent.

The cost of buying a home in Napa right now makes the decision tough. Napa Valley wages just have not kept pace with home prices. The Register has documented this thoroughly.

The comment section of these articles that address the high prices is full of angry ex-Napans who have been forced out by the high cost of living.

No one wants to pay more money than they need to. This is particularly true in real estate as the long term effect of interest rates usually means paying much more than the agreed price.

This high cost of living in Napa has changed the equation. Buyers who have decided to plunge into this market need to ask themselves a few extra questions before they buy.

A potential buyer needs to assess the affordability if they fall on hard times. All of the benefits of home ownership can cause people to stretch farther than they should.

This will backfire if income decreases. Don’t let your mortgage payment be more than a third of your budget.

People who are buying now also need to ask themselves how they will feel if the market decreases.

We have seen this before. During the mortgage meltdown, some people walked away from homes because they couldn’t afford the payment, others left because they owed more than it was worth.

It can be insanely frustrating to have locked in a high payment while new neighbors are paying much less.

Buyers also need to ask if Napa is worth the cost. Many buyers have jumped over the hill to Vacaville and other parts of Solano County where the cost of housing is much less. Other buyers have left the state entirely.

Multiple times per year I travel to Oregon and other mountain western states to visit clients who have fled California.

No one wants to buy while the market is high, but the alternative is still renting. Unlike a mortgage, rent never goes away.

Also in contrast to a mortgage, rents will increase over time.

The long-term effect of paying too much for a house will still likely cost less than rent.

Tom and John Mills are registered investment advisers and certified financial planners. Reach them at 254-0155, MillsWealth.com. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Strategic Wealth Advisors Group (SWAG), a registered investment adviser.

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