As home prices continue to stagnate in many markets across the country, renters are facing some tough choices: should they take advantage of low prices and make the move into home ownership, or wait a while longer, on the chance that the market hasn’t yet hit bottom? In some cities, the choice is easier: prices have fallen so much that it’s cheaper to buy than it is to rent.
Trulia ran the numbers recently, and came up with some helpful answers, which Mint.com turned into a snazzy infographic:
Real estate listing website Trulia.com recently released its new Buy vs Rent index, ranking the top 10 cities in the United States where buying makes most sense, as well as the top 10 cities where you should rent. How did they decide? With the help of the so-called buy/ rent ratio, which is basically the average price of a home in an area divided by the average rent charged per year. If the result is 15 or lower, that means homes in that area are priced so low that buying is cheaper than renting. If the buy/ rent ratio is 20 or higher, the case is stronger for being a renter.
Ultimately, of course, the decision to buy or rent should be based on much more than plain numbers and statistics. Homeownership enables you to build equity over the long term, but comes with costs beyond a home’s purchase price (such as property taxes and maintenance, the broker commissions and other costs associated with selling that home) that require a committment of at least five or six years to be recouped. You build no equity by renting, on the other hand, but you have the freedom to move at a month’s notice. The debate could go on and on.
Based on the data, if you’re in Minneapolis, Miami or Fresno, you should get out of that rental and buy something. In Dallas, San Diego and New York, however, renters still have the edge — especially in New York, where Trulia puts the average listing price for homes at $1.4 million, while rentals run about $3,500.