Shawn’s monthly column from The Post Independent is below.

A wise man once told me that if you can find a way to purchase real estate early in your adult life and maintain that asset, it will be the best way to build and sustain long term wealth. I along with many other first-time home buyers have taken this advice seriously. Colorado has become a very popular destination for people to relocate to, especially in the past 5-10 years. Simple economics will tell us that with increased demand, we have decreased supply, and therefore prices will rise. This trend has been going on locally for several years, and there is no sign of that slowing down in the near future.

Many folks assume you must have 20 percent for a down payment and credit scores in the 700s to buy a house. Although this can help the buyer with lower interest rates or more attractive loan packages, this is not always the requirement. Buyers today can purchase a home with as little as 3.5 percent down for an FHA loan or in some specialty cases, 0 percent down. So, why do I bring this up?

It’s important to realize that in our area buying can sometimes be less expensive than renting. Look at Glenwood Springs for example. Currently, the average price for a three-bedroom rental property is around $1,800 per month. On the flip side, assuming you have a small savings for a down payment, you can purchase a 3-bedroom property starting at around $300,000. A recent quote I have from a mortgage lender shows an estimated monthly payment of $1,771 on a property that costs $305,000 with 5 percent down payment. This monthly cost also includes private mortgage insurance, HOA fee, property taxes and property insurance. So the ultimate question becomes, do you want to pay your mortgage and start building equity for yourself or keep paying your landlord’s mortgage?

Shawn Manwaring is a broker associate with Roaring Fork Sotheby’s International Realty in Glenwood Springs. Shawn services Western Garfield County and the lower Roaring Fork Valley. He can be reached at 970-389-6069, Shawn.Manwaring@SIR.com or http://www.ManwaringProperties.com