Buying is more affordable than renting in 98 out of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas — even in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, according to real estate company Trulia’s rent vs. buy index.
The index is based on asking prices for rental units and homes for sale on the company’s website between Dec. 1, 2011, and Feb. 29.
“As rents rise and prices stagnate, homeownership is becoming even more affordable, but rising rents create a dilemma for people who can’t afford to buy yet,” says Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist. “Rising rents make it harder for people to save for a down payment, which is the biggest barrier to buying a home that aspiring homeowners face.”
Homeowners are choosing, or being forced, to rent rather than buy even though the latter is cheaper in key markets Trulia reviewed.
But as they turn to renting, the influx of demand squeezes the nation’s rental supply, pushing monthly rents higher.
The nation’s median rent stands at $712 per month — well above the average monthly mortgage cost of $647, Paul Dales, senior economist at Capital Economics, recently found. He estimated decreased vacancies in the home-rental market will push average rental rates up as much as 5% by early 2013, compared to 2.4% in January.