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Home / News / Study: Home ownership more affordable than renting in majority of housing markets

Study: Home ownership more affordable than renting in majority of housing markets

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ATTOM, curator of the nation’s premier property database, today released its 2022 Rental Affordability Report, which shows that owning a median-priced home is more affordable than the average rent on a three-bedroom property in 666, or 58 percent, of the 1,154 U.S. counties analyzed for the report. That means major home ownership expenses consume a smaller portion of average local wages than renting.

Home ownership remains more affordable even though median home prices have increased more than average rents and more than average wages in 88 percent of the counties analyzed.

The analysis incorporated recently released fair market rent data for 2022 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and public-record sales-deed data from ATTOM in 1,154 U.S. counties with sufficient single-family home sales data (see full methodology below).

The data shows that home ownership is more affordable in a majority of the country, as it was in 2021, following another year when the benefits of rising wages and super-low mortgage rates counteracted the effects of home prices spiking around the U.S.

Prices have shot up more than 10 percent in most of the country over the past year as a glut of home buyers, partly spurred by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, chase a tight supply of homes for sale. But average wages have increased about 8 percent while interest rates have hovered around 3 percent, helping to maintain ownership affordability.

Trends favoring home ownership show up most in less-populous suburban and rural areas with the most affordable home values while renting remains more affordable in the biggest metropolitan areas.

“Home-prices are rising faster than both rents and wages while wages rise faster than rents. And the housing market boom of the past decade keeps pushing home values to new records. Yet home ownership still remains the more affordable option for average workers in a majority of the country because it still takes up a smaller portion of their pay,” said Todd Teta chief product officer with ATTOM. “The trend is slowly shifting toward renters, which could be a major force in easing price increases in 2022. Prices can only go up by so much more before renting becomes financially easier. For now, though, rising wages and interest rates around 3 percent are enough to offset recent price runups and keep ownership on the plus side of the affordability ledger compared to renting.”

While renting is more affordable in a majority of counties with populations between 500,000 and 1 million, home ownership is the more viable option in counties with a population of less than 500,000. That’s especially true in markets with fewer than 100,000 residents, according to the study.

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