It’s now cheaper to rent a three-bedroom home than it is to own in most of the country, according to a new report from real estate data company ATTOM. That’s a significant shift from a year ago.
In certain big, expensive cities like New York, renting has long been cheaper than owning, for the most part. But that wasn’t the case in many smaller cities.
As recently as last year, “it was actually less expensive to own a property than to rent in about 60% of the markets across the country,” said Rich Sharga at ATTOM. “Now, it’s less expensive to rent than own in 95% of markets.”
“It was a pretty amazing divergence from the trends that we’ve seen really over the last few years,” he said.
Home prices have risen significantly during the pandemic, but Sharga said what really changed the calculus was when mortgage rates doubled in just a matter of months last year.
“The average monthly payment because of that went up between 45% and 50% in most of the country,” he said. “And that knocked the legs out from under affordability for a lot of prospective homeowners.”
That made renting more affordable than owning if you’re just looking at the average monthly payment. But Ali Wolf at the housing data and consultancy firm Zonda said that’s not the only thing to consider when weighing whether to rent or buy.
“When you look at rent versus own, you also need to think about from an owning perspective, what other values come with becoming a homeowner,” Wolf said.
Even if in the short term it may be cheaper to rent, “If you think longer term in terms of wealth building, there’s still value in homeownership,” Wolf said.
The fact that homeownership has become so much less affordable for so many will make the wealth gap in this country even bigger, she said.
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