Personal finance students consider owning or renting a home

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by jamesc  11/20/2019 4:00:44 PM -- 

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, NE – It is a question many new or existing homeowners face – is it better to own or rent? Students in a personal finance class at Northeast Community College in South Sioux City this semester have discussed the pros and cons of which is the better investment since both have valid points. They have determined that it can be a difficult decision for some to make.

“The intent of the discussion was to look at housing options and decide if renting or buying was preferable depending on a lifestyle situation,” said Lori McClaren, business instructor.

The 13 students looked into the home-buying process by inspecting two new houses in the Flatwater Crossing development, owned and operated by Ho-Chunk Capital. Pat Wojcik, a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams, explained the new development will house 1,000 units and is designed to be a walkable urban neighborhood. Each house has a view of the Missouri River, as well as part of a community featuring trails, greenspaces, walking paths, and plazas. 

When budgeting for a home, McClaren said the students evaluated what a homeowner may need that was based on the two houses they inspected including location and amenities as well as the exteriors, interior finishes, quality of workmanship, proximity to the river, and layout.

“The students could explore every part of each house and make comments, suggestions about the layout, view the appliances, test out the soft-close drawers and pull out shelves in some of the cupboards, and review bedroom setups,” McClaren said.

The students then calculated the price per square footage and determined the cost of building new houses per square footage in South Sioux City.

McClaren said, “They also had to consider as buyers what to expect in terms of growth in the area over the next 20-25 years as the houses are in a new development, what role a real estate agent plays and the process a new home buyer would need to go through to purchase a home and secure a mortgage. Students were also highly engaged with the time-frame of the house purchase and potential types of financing. Some of them are interested in being investors themselves and want to know more about their options for financing.”

When the discussion turned to renting over ownership, McClaren said the students acknowledged both had their advantages. 

“Most students wanted to wait to buy until they had saved up a down payment to cover their loan costs. Thus, they acknowledged renting had its place especially when first starting out on their own and not wanting all the maintenance responsibilities of a house to deal with,” she said. “Most students also wanted the flexibility of being able to move as they acknowledged their lives could be changing due to jobs or personal circumstances.”

McClaren said the goal of her personal finance class is to teach students how to take control of their financial lives and make wise choices.

“We know that we make monetary decisions every day - and with some education, the decisions can lead us to a bright future while living fulfilling lives,” she said.


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Northeast Community College students are pictured with Pat Wojcik, a real estate agent with Keller Williams (center), in a new house in the Flatwater Crossing development in South Sioux City. The students are part of a personal finance class where they have been studying the processes of home-buying and renting.

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