Nancy Simmons Starrs is president and founder of Apartment Detectives, a D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia apartment search service. 

During the course of my work day, some of my clients will ask me if they should consider renting or buying. As a real estate agent, I can help them consider both options. Some are looking at rental homes to compare what they get for their rent dollars versus what they would get for the same mortgage dollars.

Buying is not something everyone is ready to do. This is something that has to be right for you and that depends on many factors in your individual circumstance. If you are new to the area or new to your job, a rental home will give you time to decide if you like the area and your job.

Once you decide you like the area enough to stay, then you can decide on your favorite neighborhoods and save some money for closing costs and down payment toward the purchase of your home.

Since this is a question that does come up rather frequently, I thought it might be helpful to compare two Washington homes that are listed both for rent and for purchase:

• 3802 Porter St. NW #303: This is a two-level, one-bedroom condo in Cleveland Park listed for $399,900, with a condo fee of $288 monthly. It is also listed for rent for $2,300 monthly.

On the first level is a renovated kitchen with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances; the living and dining area has wood floors and a fireplace. The second level includes the bedroom, a renovated bath, washer and dryer and skylight. The condo amenities are an outdoor pool, a fitness center and free shuttle to the Tenley Metro.

For this comparison, with 20 percent down payment with an interest rate of 4 percent on a 30-year loan, the mortgage payment would be approximately $1,527.35, according to the calculation that I used.  Add the condo fee of $288 to the mortgage and this brings the payment to about $1,815 monthly.

In this scenario, it would cost you less per month to buy.

• 1117 10th St. NW #906:  This is one-bedroom condo near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and Logan Circle. It is listed for sale at $540,000, with a condo fee of $520 monthly. It is also listed for rent for $2,500 monthly for rent. The open kitchen has granite counter tops and the living area has wood floors throughout and a balcony. This condo comes with two garage parking spaces. The condo amenities are Concierge, Fitness Center & Green Roof Top Deck.

For this comparison, with 20 percent down payment at an interest rate of 4 percent on a 30-year loan, the mortgage payment would be approximately $2,062.43, according to the calculation that I used. Add the condo fee of $520 and this will bring the mortgage payment to about $2,582 monthly.

In this scenario, it would cost you less per month to rent.

This condo also comes with two garage parking spaces. If a parking space is not something you need, you can typically rent to someone else in the building for $150 to $250 monthly, which you can put toward your condo fees.

Mortgage payments will vary depending on what interest rate you get and what down payment you can make. You should consult with a lender to see what mortgage is best for you personally.

There are mortgages available that will allow for a lower down payment than 20 percent and interest rates that are lower are possible. Contact a mortgage lender to find out what works best for you.

Only you can decide what the best choice is for you between renting and buying a home. Considering pros and cons can be helpful in making this decision.

Some pros to renting a home: You can move at the end of your term of lease easily. It is the landlord’s responsiblity to make sure all appliances are in working order, so when something breaks down, you can simply call your landlord.

Some cons to renting a home: Your rent will most likely increase at the end of the term of your lease. Rent money is not going to any of your personal future savings. A landlord can decide if they will allow you to have a pet or not to have a pet.

Some pros to buying a home are: A mortgage payment with a fixed rate will remain the same for the term of that loan as you move ahead in your career, hopefully increasing your salary along the way, which will help you build your savings and plan for retirement.

Some cons to buying a home:  As an owner, you are responsible for the maintenance of that home, which can include some unexpected costs. If you have a job transfer and are relocated, selling a home can take longer than breaking a lease. If the market crashes again, you could be stuck.

Read Nancy Simmons Starrs’s previous columns: