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Renting or buying: Which is less expensive in Philadelphia?

If you're like most people, purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions you'll make in your life -- right up there with getting married or having children. The risks are significant, and potential homebuyers in Philadelphia would be wise to do their research and cover their legal bases before purchasing a house or a condominium.

Likewise, sellers of residential real estate should take the necessary steps to recognize and disclose any latent defects in the property. If you don't meet the disclosure requirements, then you will almost certainly face legal challenges.

As for Philadelphia's residential real estate market, recent reports have compared the costs of renting and buying a home. There are moving parts in the purchasing equation, however, so potential buyers should seek professional help before fully committing to a deal.

For example, one report from Trulia suggests that, per square foot, purchasing a house with an average price listing in Philadelphia is 48 percent less expensive than paying a monthly rent of $1,600. Trulia regards the average price listing of homes in the area as $175,000.

However, if you're a homebuyer, you should also assess the costs not included in the list price -- costs such as repairs, maintenance or condo fees. Renters generally don't have to worry about these issues, and the average list price offered by Trulia is only one factor in the overall equation.

In the long run, owning a home may be the most cost-efficient and even the most fulfilling route to take, but that all depends on the details of each particular situation. A legal professional with real estate experience can help ensure that buyers and sellers are protected from unwanted surprises in a home sale.

Source: Philadelphia City Paper, "THE DEBUNKER: Dammit, it is not 48% cheaper to buy than rent in Philly," Emily, Guendelsberger, March 4, 2014

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