If you insist on living in one of the country’s inflated housing bubbles ― yes, Brooklyn and Northern California, we’re talking about you ― you probably already know you’ll be a renter for the foreseeable future. But in 54 percent of the nation’s housing markets, it’s still more affordable to buy than rent, according to a 2018 rental affordability report from Attom Data Solutions.
However, when data are broken down by population rather than the number of markets, they show that the majority of the U.S. population — 64 percent of us — live in markets that are more affordable for renters than for buyers.
“As home price appreciation continues to outpace rental growth in most areas, renting has clearly become the lesser of two housing affordability evils,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at Attom, in a statement. Check out this interactive map to see how the real estate data firm’s numbers shake out where you live:
The study used recently released data for 2018 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and sales deed data from public records in 447 U.S. counties with sufficient home sales information. Rental affordability was determined from the average fair market rent for a three-bedroom property as a percentage of the area’s average monthly wage. Home-buying affordability was determined from the monthly housing payment for a median-priced home (based on a 3 percent down payment and including mortgage, property tax, homeowner’s insurance and private mortgage insurance) as a percentage of the average monthly wage.
Of course, depending on your personal needs and financial situation ― and willingness to live in a lower-priced or less-desirable housing market ― you can still probably swing homeownership.
So what’s the biggest takeaway from the study? That home prices continue to grow and could make buying a house increasingly hard. For renters who hope to buy a home, the affordability noose is tightening: Median home prices rose faster than average fair-market rents in 263 of the 447 counties analyzed in the report, including in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties in California; Cook County, Illinois; and Miami-Dade County, Florida.
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