Study: Most renters should be buyers
NEW YORK – May 18, 2017 – Rent is so high that a typical renter in the U.S. can purchase a home nearly 50 percent more expensive than the median valued home and keep the same monthly housing budget, according to a new Zillow analysis.
The median rent in the U.S. is $1,416 per month, which is enough to cover the monthly expenses associated with owning a $289,505 home. The median U.S. home value is $196,500.
Rent is more expensive than ever before. Affordability is a growing concern across the country, and rent requires almost half of the median income in some of the nation's most expensive markets. A mortgage payment is cheaper than a rental payment on a monthly basis, but saving enough money for the downpayment is holding back many renters from crossing over into homeownership.
Zillow analyzed the median rent payment in cities across the country to determine how much home a prospective buyer could afford without spending more on a mortgage than they were currently spending on rent. Zillow factored in all monthly homeownership costs, such as property taxes, maintenance and insurance. In 37 of the 50 cities Zillow analyzed, renters could buy a home worth more than the median valued home in their city without spending more on monthly housing costs.
Renters paying the median rent in Cleveland and Milwaukee can afford to buy a home more than twice as expensive as the local median home value. In Cleveland, prospective buyers can buy a home valued at $174,194 while keeping all monthly housing costs the same – this represents more than 80 percent of homes currently on the market.
San Francisco is one of the only cities in the country where a monthly rental payment would not cover the costs of owning the median valued home. Renters in San Francisco who want to keep monthly expenses the same would have to buy a home valued at $865,857, representing just 23 percent of homes currently on the market. The median home value in the city of San Francisco is over $1 million.
"Renters hesitant to enter the home buying market for fear of not being able to find an affordable home should be encouraged to discover they may have more options than they thought," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "However, it's worth noting that many of the more affordable homes for sale may be older, smaller and/or located in less-desirable neighborhoods than they might like. The decision between buying and renting is a financial trade-off between saving more each month on a mortgage payment versus spending more on rent but taking advantage of the location and lifestyle amenities urban renting often offers. Recent slowdowns in rent growth may take some of the edge off for renters saving to become homeowners. This is good news, since saving a downpayment, qualifying for a loan and finding a home available at a manageable price remain hurdles for millions of aspiring buyers."
Nearly half of all buyers are entering the market for the first-time, according to the 2016 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends. The majority of all buyers stay within the same city when they move.