Renting Versus Buying: 2011

This year California housing market conditions make a strong and compelling case for homeownership. With prices still well below the historic highs of just a few years ago and attractive mortgage rates, qualified buyers have a unique opportunity to own their own home.

The Monthly Savings of Buying Looks Enticing…
As seen to the right, a rigorous analysis of renting versus buying hears this conclusion out. As shown in the following chart, the monthly housing costs (principle, interest, taxes, and insurance or PITI) associated with buying a median-priced home of $301,430 is $1,590 (Fourth Quarter 2010 median priced home in California). This assumes the buyer is making a 20 percent downpayment and financing with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.62 percent. In comparison, the median rent on a three-bedroom two-bath apartment with renter’s insurance in California is $1,810. That means buying a home would save the homeowner $220 per month when compared to renting and the homeowner would save over $2,600 a year.

…But the Low Mortgage Rates of Today = The Tipping Point
The mortgage rate is a significant factor in determining just how much a homebuyer can afford. Today’s low mortgage rate environment tips the scale—for some—in favor of buying versus renting. For a home priced at $400,000, with a 20 percent downpayment and a 4 percent mortgage rate, the monthly PITI will be $1,990 for the homebuyer. The monthly PITI jumps to $2,180 at 5 percent and to $2,380 at 6 percent. For each one percentage point increase in the mortgage rate, the payment goes up by almost $200 under these assumptions. Even for a lower priced home at $200,000, the difference in the monthly payment is significant as each percentage point rise in the mortgage rate tacks on $100 to the monthly PITI.

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