Buying a home vs. renting a home

CHICAGO

It's much cheaper to buy a home than rent one in 100 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, according to a report released recently by the real-estate website Trulia.

"Despite the recent (home) price rebound, rents continue to rise faster than (home) prices, and mortgage rates are near record lows," said Jed Kolko, Trulia's chief economist, in a news release. And that's leading to favorable homeownership costs in most corners of the country.

In its analysis, Trulia looked at the average price of all homes for sale and the average rent of all homes for lease on the website between the beginning of June and the end of August. Averages for the metropolitan areas include properties from the inner cities to the suburbs.

The report reflects increased affordability for homeowners compared with the winter, when Trulia last did this analysis. The last time around, it was better to buy in 98 of the top 100 markets, Kolko said. But mortgage rates have dropped since then, and rents have risen faster than home prices.

According to the report, homeownership affordability, compared with renting, was highest in Detroit, where the average cost of owning a home is $349 a month and the average cost of renting one is $1,149 a month, a 70 percent difference.

Other markets where homeownership affordability is high: Gary, Ind. ($616 to own, $1,649 to rent, 63 percent difference); Oklahoma City, Okla. ($590, $1,578, 63 percent; Lakeland-Winter Haven ($495, $1,276, 61 percent); and Toledo, Ohio ($476, $1,222, 61 percent).

Tampa-St. Petersburg area is not far behind at $594 to buy, $1,393 to rent, a 57 percent difference.

On the other end of the spectrum: Honolulu, where home affordability, compared with renting, was the lowest of the 100 areas. The monthly cost of homeownership in Honolulu is an average $1,519 and the monthly cost of renting is an average $2,007. That's a 24 percent difference of $488 a month.

Other markets where homeownership affordability is lower: San Francisco; New York; San Jose, Calif.; and Los Angeles.

For homeowners, Trulia assumed a 3.5 percent mortgage rate, itemized deductions at the 25 percent federal tax bracket, and a seven-year time horizon to hold on to the property. It included closing costs, maintenance, insurance and property taxes.

For renters, it included security deposit and renter's insurance.

Even in a scenario where the homeowner could only obtain a 4.5 percent mortgage, didn't itemize on taxes and only planned on staying in the home for five years, it was cheaper to buy in 96 markets, Kolko said.

Despite being more affordable to buy in many markets, often people can't take advantage, Kolko said.

"It takes years to save enough for a down payment, and it takes a high credit score to even qualify for a mortgage, let alone to get the best rate. In the recession, many people found it harder to save — and harder to keep up their credit scores," Kolko said in the release.

"Homeownership makes the most financial sense for people whose strong credit scores let them snag the lowest mortgage rate and who get the biggest benefit from deducting mortgage interest and property taxes from their income taxes," he said.

Buying a home vs. renting a home 11/17/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 6:18pm]

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