Why Today’s Mortgage Rates Make Buying a Home Cheaper Than Renting

Are You Better Off Renting?

With home prices rising, it might make sense to people looking for a home to steer away from buying one and to consider renting instead. After all, if prices are heading upward, why not rent for a while and wait for those home prices to eventually come down?

Why that may sound like a logical and practical decision, it’s really not. The truth is that today, with mortgage rates very low, it’s still cheaper and more cost-effective in the long run to buy your next home rather than rent one.

Just ask Trulia, the online real estate information firm, which noted in a study that mortgage rates would have to soar to make renting a cheaper option than buying. Mortgage rates have held fairly steady for a while now, ranging from 3.7 to 4 percent. Trulia suggested that for the balance to tip toward renting, interest rates would have to go above 10 percent. Interest rates haven’t been that high since 1991.

By purchasing a home, you can lock in a low mortgage interest rate — for decades. It’s unlikely that those looking to rent a house can expect to stay there without facing periodic rent increases.

Are Homes Too Expensive?

If you’re concerned about the rising price of a home, there are two things to consider. First, most housing market analysts believe prices will continue rising for one simple reason: demand is so high. When home sales dropped in July across the nation, it wasn’t because buyer interest was flagging. It was because inventory was so low that there were not enough homes on the market to meet the high demand.

And as long as that buyer demand stays high, prices are expected to keep rising as well.

But the same is true for houses for rent. As the housing market has gotten stronger, so has the rental market. Because of equally high demand for homes to rent, those rental costs are going up as well. This is happening across the country, where rents have been climbing as apartment vacancies have been dropping. That means what you pay every month for a mortgage could actually turn out to be lower than your monthly rent. And if you’re reluctant to buy a home now, your only other option will be high rents.

How About Interest Rates?

Interest rates remain a key to this. Low mortgage rates continue to keep homeownership a less expensive option than renting. Your money is going to be used far more productively by obtaining a low mortgage rate than by signing a lease for the month to month rents.

And with home prices rising, that means you will build equity in your home – something you won’t do while you’re a renter.

Trulia’s study concluded that buying was 38 percent cheaper than renting in all of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas. Even factoring in property taxes and ongoing home repair needs, the study still concluded that it was cheaper to purchase your home, particularly in the Midwest and South.

Another study reinforces the idea that homeowners are still making out better than their friends who rent. The latest national index produced by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University faculty found that on average, owning and accumulating money through a buildup of equity outpaces renting a home and investing in a portfolio of stocks and bonds.

The Outlook For Millenials

This is an important notion for young people buying their first home. Young couples, in particular, may feel anxious about taking on the responsibility of homeownership and might assume it makes more sense to rent a while longer until they feel certain they’re ready for the big move. Young couples often want to purchase a starter home, then upgrade to a larger house later on as their careers advance and their finances get stronger.

The problem today, of course, is that the inventory of homes on the market is low, and that’s especially true for starter homes. Many of the starter homes in major cities got purchased by investors after the housing market crashed in 2008. Those new owners turned their properties into rentals, so it’s been hard for young families to find those smaller, less expensive houses on the market.

In the past few years, the country has experienced a significant jump in property values in many states, including in Florida. And since it’s unlikely we will witness the lowering of prices anytime soon, prospective buyers should consider jumping in now, before prices escalate any further. The bottom line is that real estate remains a major asset. And low mortgage rates are definitely helping to make building a home and equity over time, a very profitable long-term plan.