Here’s another reason that the U.S. housing recovery is real and sustainable – buying a home is now 45% cheaper than renting on average across the country, according to an analysis done by Trulia and reported here by its chief economist Jed Kalko:
Methodology: Trulia looks at homes listed for sale and for rent on its website, and compares the average rent and asking price for an identical set of properties in a metro area, for a direct apples-to-apples comparison. Then, Trulia factors in the total costs of homeownership (e.g., closing costs, maintenance, insurance, taxes, etc) and total cost of renting (e.g., renter’s insurance and security deposit).
The starting assumptions are that a prospective homebuyer can get a low mortgage rate of 3.5 percent, itemizes their federal tax deductions, is in the 25 percent tax bracket, and will stay in their home for seven years. To account for the opportunity costs, Trulia calculates the net present value of the payment streams for renting and owning.
Conclusion: With a 20% down payment, a 30-year fixed mortgage rate at 3.5% and at the 25% federal tax bracket, Trulia finds that homeownership is cheaper than renting in all of the 100 largest metros by a wide margin. There is no market where the financial decision is even close, so long as you plan to stay in the home for at least seven years, finance with a 3.5% mortgage, and itemize your tax deductions.
Based on asking prices and rents during the summer of 2012, buying is now 45% cheaper than renting in the 100 largest U.S. metros, on average – that’s a monthly savings of $771. If you plan to stay in a home for 7 years, which is the average time that Americans traditionally live in a home before moving again, it is more affordable to buy than to rent in ALL of the 100 largest metros in the U.S.
MP: Trulia’s analysis would indicate that the incredible affordability of buying a home today compared to renting will provide some support to the ongoing housing recovery over the next few years. Of course, rising home prices and mortgage rates could eventually reduce some the current huge advantage of buying versus renting, depending on how fast rents rise compared to home prices. And as Trulia’s economist points out, many would-be homebuyers don’t have the 20% down payment assumed in this analysis, and might not be able to save up that amount in the short run to take advantage of the historical affordability of homeownership. But on the other hand, FHA is providing mortgages with only a 3-5% down payment, so the lack of a 20% down payment might not be much of a constraint.
Also, the 45% advantage for homeownership versus renting is the average. In metro areas like Oklahoma City, the monthly cost of owning a home ($590) is as much as 63% lower than renting a comparable home ($1,576). It make sense that such a huge cost difference would have to start translating into increased demand for home purchases, and that’s probably one of the factors contributing to increased home sales around the country. Another example is Minneapolis – the monthly cost of buying a home there ($751) is 52% cheaper than renting ($1,558), which translates into monthly savings of $807 for homebuyers compared to renters (of a comparable house), and that huge savings is likely what is driving home sales higher in the Twin Cities (see CD post below).