Record number of renters believe renting is more affordable than owning

A recent report from CoreLogic showed that home prices increased 4% year over year in December, and projected the U.S. price index will rise by 5.2% by December 2020.

As home prices continue to rise nationally, it’s little wonder that Freddie Mac’s latest “Profile of Today’s Renter and Owner” found that the majority of current renters believe renting is more affordable than owning.

However, the percentage of renters who hold that belief has increased dramatically in the past year.

A whopping 84% of renters said they believe renting is more affordable than owning – an all-time high for the survey. For comparison, this number is up 17 percentage points from February 2018.

The survey also found that affordability issues affect the average renter more than a homeowner. Freddie Mac said there are 42% of renters who paid more than a third of their household income on rent.

This is compared to only 24% of homeowners who spend that amount on mortgage payments.

But there is good news for renters looking to own. Given current low interest rates, 40% of renters said they plan to purchase a home.

“The housing market is strong and, based on our survey, the low mortgage rate environment may inspire both renters and owners to make an educated move this spring,” said David Brickman, Freddie Mac CEO. “While Baby Boomers tend to be satisfied with their current housing situation, younger generations are still struggling to determine whether to rent or purchase a home, largely due to lack of supply and affordability constraints.”

And that lack of supply stretches beyond single-family housing. Last year saw record-high occupancy rates in multifamily housing with a shortage of supply. Naturally, this drove rent growth. Many of the renters surveyed by Freddie Mac voiced their worry in this area.

Almost 70% of renters said they are growing more concerned about their rent going up in the next 12 months, while 68% are concerned about not being able to afford their larger expenses. Even so, according to the majority surveyed, renting is still the more affordable option.

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Renting Is Almost As Expensive As Owning A Home Now, Study Suggests

Renting is now only slightly cheaper than owning a home, according to a new study.

Median rent was $1,319 per month nationwide, while the median mortgage was $1,600 per month at the end of 2019. Compared to the previous year, rent rose 4%, while mortgage payments declined 1%, according to a new study by that analyzed housing costs in 593 U.S. counties with populations over 100,000.

“Lower mortgage rates really benefit the buy side of the equation. The fact that rates are down is really helping narrow the gap between buying and renting,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at

Monthly payments are cheaper for renters in 84% of the counties analyzed. In these counties, home prices were 260% higher than the national median price, while rents were only 79% more.

But the gap in renter-friendly counties is narrowing even faster than it is in the rest of the country. With rents in Brooklyn, New York City, and Santa Cruz, Calif. decreasing 24%, 20% and 18%, respectively — compared to the 2.8% decrease nationally.

“In these areas, the markets are so large and well established that, for the most part, buying comes with a huge premium. These tend to be markets that attract not only homeowners and investors but international investors, too — like New York and California,” said Hale about these counties, including Santa Barbara, Calif., Monterey, Calif., San Mateo, Calif., and San Francisco, Calif.

Monthly mortgage payments were actually cheaper for buyers compared to renters in 16% of the counties analyzed, up from 12% of counties the year prior. In those counties, like Clayton, Ga. and Baltimore City, Md., homes were 53% cheaper than the national median of $300,000. Rents in those areas were only down 11% from a year ago.

“In these areas, there are a lot of homes available for homeownership and not a lot of rental inventory. The country is facing limited building and a lack of housing availability, but these areas don’t tend to have those issues,” said Hale, referring to those counties, which include Cumberland, N.J., Richmond, Ga., and Vigo, Ind. More than 25 counties, including Cleveland, Bronx County, N.Y., Indianapolis, and Columbia, S.C., joined the list of buyer-friendly locations in 2019.

Sarah Paynter is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahapaynter

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