If you’re a renter dreaming of homeownership in 2023, here’s the hard truth: It may be cheaper to remain a tenant, at least for now.
Across the 50 largest metropolitan markets in the U.S., renters, who are also experiencing rising costs, still on average had a 41.4% lower monthly payment than a first-time homebuyer in December, spending nearly $800 less, according to a new report from Realtor.com.
Rising mortgage rates — the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 6.13% as of Jan. 26 — were largely to blame for that yawning price gap, Realtor.com said. December’s U.S. median rental price of $1,712 was far cheaper than the typical monthly starter home payment of $2,504, thanks to that cost surging “more than 10 times faster than rents” — up 37.4% from the same period a year earlier, Realtor.com said in a statement Thursday.
Even so, “despite the fact that renting will likely be cheaper than buying in 2023, rental affordability will remain a key issue throughout the year,” Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s chief economist, said in the statement.
“We expect rents will keep hitting new highs, driven by factors including still-low vacancy rates, lagging new construction and demand from would-be first-time buyers,” Hale added. “For prospective first-time buyers, the key consideration when figuring out whether to buy or rent is how long you plan to live in your next home. If you’re looking for flexibility to move in the shorter term, renting may be your best bet, and still offer opportunities to save if you’re able to compromise on factors like proximity to the downtown area. Whereas buying could be the better option if you’re planning to stay put for at least five years.”
Realtor.com is operated by News Corp NWSA,
While renting was cheaper than first-time buyer payments in 45 of the 50 top markets Realtor.com looked at in December, 10 metropolitan areas stood out in particular: Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles, Boston, Portland, Phoenix and Sacramento. On average, their monthly starter homeownership costs were 82.2%, or $1,920, higher than rental payments, Realtor.com said. In Austin, the difference was as high as 121.3%, with a gap of $2,013.
Only five markets favored first-time homeowners over renters when it came to affordability, according to Realtor.com. Memphis, Tenn., offered the best deal in December, with a median rental payment of $1,258 and a median monthly starter home cost of $847.