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“Buy or Rent?” is NOT this easy

Posted by Johnine Larsen on November 29, 2018
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Every so often, I’ll find some handy little map or infographic like this. It paints each state as “better to rent,” “better to buy,” or “neutral.”

However, and I cannot stress this enough: Guides like this are useless. Here’s why:

1. State-wide data

These “guides” try to paint the whole state with a broad brush. But the housing market in Seattle couldn’t be more different than the housing market in Neah Bay. Look at your local real estate market for useful information. I don’t mean just city-wide data. You should find data for your specific neighborhood, and even your specific block. Only THAT type of information can give you useful insights for making real estate decisions.

2. Your financial state

The biggest factor in “should you rent or buy?” is you. Can you afford a down payment? How stable is your income for the next 10 years? How’s your credit? If you’re getting a old house, can you afford the upkeep and repairs? What about property taxes? All these questions matter much, much more than a simple comparison between renting and buying costs. Your neighbors don’t have the same job, healthcare costs, or debt as you—how could anyone possibly recommend a real estate decision without knowing those specifics?

3. Non-money factors

Real estate is about so much more than money. Some people hate yardwork and love discovering new cities. Other people love the idea of settling down for life and building their perfect nest. Sure, that nester might save a few thousand dollars by renting—but your dreams and comfort are worth more than that. People are more than their bank accounts. A real estate decision should match both your finances and your hopes, values, and personality.


Real estate infographics that look at huge averages and make suggestions to individual people are useless. This kind of reductionism is like telling someone in Manhattan that they should buy an SUV because the United States has a lot of space and SUVs keep you safe. Yes, the U.S. is large. Should you buy a SUV if you live in Manhattan and hate driving? Of course not.

State-wide metrics on real estate have different uses. They let us know the state of the whole housing market, and they give us a top-level overview of differences between states. But it’s a one-way street—personal information gives us broad conclusions, but you can’t turn around and use those broad conclusions to make personal decisions.

Everyone’s situation is different. Everyone’s smartest real estate decision will be different. And that’s why a real estate agent who takes the time to know your personal situation is so important. When we partner with you to buy or sell a house, we look at the local and hyper-local real estate market, your unique financial situation, and non-money factors like your lifestyle, values, and personal goals.

You’re aren’t the average of all Washingtonians, and your real estate needs aren’t the average of all Washingtonians, either. We help you buy or sell your home. 

  • Sarah Donaldson
    Sarah Donaldson
    18:44 18 Jul 19
    Darcie was such a joy to work with. She felt like family during the sale of our house and the search for our new home. We may have found our forever home, but if we ever need a Realtor in future, Darcie from Real Estate Gals will be our first call.
    Brian Heagler
    Brian Heagler
    16:55 02 Jun 19
    I have worked with Johnine and her team for 19 years and have always received personal, knowledgeable and professional service and attention! There is never and pressure and they will guide you away from a property when appropriate, which is always appreciated when a market is hot and the tendency is to move quickly. I trust them and have never been let down!
    Anne Slater
    Anne Slater
    18:03 25 May 19
    Johnine Larsen is fabulous! She listened and came up with ways we could get what we wanted in a house and stay within our limited budget. When we found the house we wanted, she moved super fast to get the house inspected and implemented creative ideas to make our offer appealing. And out of 13 offers, we were selected and got our house. I recommend her to anyone buying a home.
    Amy Burdick
    Amy Burdick
    19:13 24 May 19
    Real Estate Gals made sure we found our perfect house! Then, when we were up against other bidders, Johnine worked tirelessly to ensure we were tops! Her extensive real estate experience combined with exceptional character and integrity provided peace of mind throughout the process. She also made sure we received the right value as a seller and got the transaction done quickly and efficiently. Simply stated: there is nobody better to help you find your dream home.
    Bill Hollman
    Bill Hollman
    22:21 19 May 19
    I'd give Real Estate Gals 6 stars if I could. We have used them multiple times, both in selling and buying homes in Seattle and the surrounding area. I can't say enough about the professionalism, knowledge, and patience they bring to the task of buying a new home, or selling your current residence. And they know the Seattle area so well, they'll offer valuable insights into the pros and cons of any location you may be to considering. Look no further, call Johnine at Real Estate Gals. You will be glad you did!
    Beth Guerra
    Beth Guerra
    01:14 18 May 19
    Johnine was a breath of fresh air in the real estate market. She listened intently to our wishes and goals, and was tireless in her search for our perfect house. She is well versed in both Seattle and the surrounding areas. She made sure all the details were taken care of after the inspection, and made the closing process seamless. She even gifted us with a housewarming present. Nearly 7 years later, we still receive holiday cards and well wishes. I highly recommend Real Estate Gals and will look no further in the future.
    Aidan Key
    Aidan Key
    15:44 17 May 19
    Johnine and the Real Estate Gals brilliantly took us through the home buying process two different times. Their willingness to educate (I was new), hear our home hopes, and support us through the process are a few of the reasons that I highly recommend this team. Speaking of a team, I love their collaborative business model - it meant that we--the home buyers--always had a returned phone call and an ability to look at a house on OUR schedule. Truly felt like they place the customer first!
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