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Trulia: Home Affordability Outpaces Rental Costs

Volatile markets and low home sales are colluding to force mortgage rates to historic lows and sellers to mark off home prices, making actual home purchases less expensive than renting in cities across the United States. Buying a home fell below renting costs in 74 percent of the country's 50 largest cities over July, with 12 percent of cities seeing higher price tags for apartments than for houses, according to real estate Web site ""Trulia"":http://www.trulia.com/.

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Peak numbers for home affordability make closing on rates a better deal than signing an apartment lease in states from Nevada to Texas. Las Vegas takes the top position, registering a 6 home price-to-rent ratio for the real estate Web site. Detroit, Fresno, and Mesa follow, each with 7. Arlington finishes among these cities as the fifth best for home purchases relative to apartment costs.

Where is leasing an apartment still cheaper than obtaining the mortgage financing to buy a house? Renter-rich New York City tops a five-member list with a 36 home price-to-rent ratio. Fort Worth and Omaha follow at 32 and 27, respectively. Fleet-footed cities Seattle and San Francisco take last place on the renters' list with 24 each.

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Commenting on the numbers, Ken Shuman, Trulia's head of communications, said in a ""statement"":http://info.trulia.com/index.php?s=43&item=129, ""While recent stock market volatility on top of the slow economic recovery makes homebuyers nervous, it has not destroyed the American dream of homeownership. However, prospective homebuyers, who are ready and qualified to buy, face an uphill battle despite falling home prices and record-low mortgage rates.

""Today, many banks are actually less enthusiastic about approving residential mortgage applications, which has dragged out the home buying process,"" he added. ""Until a middle ground on lending practices can be met, many highly-qualified buyers may be forced to be renters by choice for now.""

According to Trulia, foreclosure gluts keep a heel on home purchases, with capital pockets created by foreign buyers forcing spikes by some 112 percent in price-to-rent ratios for cities like Miami. Banks eager to pile their empty homes onto homebuyers, meanwhile, inspired price-to-rent fluctuations over the past two quarters, with Miami seeing the least change in homebuyer prospects and Detroit netting a 39-percent change.

Shuman offers advice to homebuyers in the middle of decisions about prices and rentals.

""Many aspiring homeowners are on the fence about renting and buying in today's market. Should they take advantage of falling home prices and low borrowing costs, or should they continue to rent until the economy stabilizes?"" he asks. ""Price alone should never be the sole factor in deciding to purchase a home.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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