“Although buying is still more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. housing markets, that majority is shrinking as home price appreciation continues to outpace rental growth in most areas,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions.
ATTOM Data Solutions, today released its 2018 Rental Affordability Report, which shows buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 240 of 447 U.S. counties analyzed for the report — 54 percent.
The analysis incorporated recently released fair market rent data for 2018 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics along with public record sales deed data from ATTOM Data Solutions in 447 U.S. counties with sufficient home sales data (see full methodology below).
“Although buying is still more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. housing markets, that majority is shrinking as home price appreciation continues to outpace rental growth in most areas,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Renting has clearly become the lesser of two housing affordability evils in many major population centers, with renting more affordable than buying in 76 percent of counties that have a population of 1 million or more. And when broken down by population rather than number of markets, this data shows that the majority of the U.S. population — 64 percent — live in markets that are more affordable to rent than to buy.”
Renting More Affordable than Buying in Most Populated Counties
Counter to the overall trend, renting is more affordable than buying a home in the nation’s 14 most populated counties and in 30 of 39 counties with a population of 1 million or more (76 percent) — including Los Angeles County, California; Cook County (Chicago), Illinois; Harris County (Houston), Texas; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; and San Diego County, California.
Other markets with a population of more than 1 million where it is more affordable to rent than to buy a home included counties in Miami, New York City, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Jose, San Francisco and Boston.
“The thing about this data that concerns me the most is that it is now more affordable to rent in the greater Seattle area than buy. Even with solid income growth, the rapid rise in home prices is keeping many would-be buyers out of ownership,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist with Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. “To make matters worse, rapid rental rate growth in the core King County market is forcing many renters to look farther out to find something they can afford. Seattle needs considerably more affordable housing for renters and home buyers alike. Unless something changes, the area will remain very expensive, pricing many buyers out of the market.”
Among the 39 U.S. counties analyzed in the report with a population of 1 million or more, the nine where it is more affordable to buy a home than rent were Tarrant County (Dallas), Texas; Broward County (Miami), Florida; Bexar County, (San Antonio) Texas; Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan; Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; Hillsborough County (Tampa-St. Petersburg), Florida; Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio; Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania; and Saint Louis County, Missouri.
Least Affordable Rental Markets
The report shows that renting a three-bedroom property requires an average of 38.8 percent of weekly wages across the 447 counties analyzed for the report.
The least affordable markets for renting were Marin County, California (79.5 percent of average wages to rent); Spotsylvania County (Washington, D.C. area), Virginia (75.5 percent); Honolulu County, Hawaii (71.9 percent); Sonoma County (Santa Rosa area), California (67.6 percent); and Kings County, New York (67.4 percent).
Most Affordable Rental Markets
The most affordable markets for renting were Madison County (Huntsville), Alabama (22.3 percent of average wages to rent); Tazewell County (Peoria), Illinois (23.6 percent); Greene County (Dayton), Ohio (24.1 percent); Sullivan County (Kingsport-Bristol), Tennessee (24.2 percent); and Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio (24.8 percent).
Rents Rise Faster Than Wages in 60 Percent of Markets
Average fair market rents rose faster than average weekly wages in 266 of the 447 counties analyzed in the report (60 percent), including Los Angeles County, California; Cook County, Illinois; Harris County, Texas; Maricopa County, Arizona; and San Diego County, California.
Average weekly wages rose faster than average fair market rents in 181 of the 447 counties analyzed in the report (40 percent), including King County (Seattle), Washington; Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada; Bexar County (San Antonio), Texas; Middlesex County (Boston), Massachusetts; and Suffolk County (Long Island), New York.
Home Prices Rising Faster Than Rents in 59 Percent of Markets
Median home prices rose faster than average fair market rents in 263 of the 447 counties analyzed in the report, including Los Angeles County, California; Cook County, Illinois; San Diego County, California; Orange County, California; and Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Average fair market rents rose faster than median home prices in 184 of the 447 counties analyzed in the report (40 percent), including Harris County (Houston), Texas; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; Kings County (Brooklyn), New York; Queens County, New York; and Tarrant County, Texas in the Dallas metro area.
For this report, ATTOM Data Solutions looked at 50th percentile average rental data for three-bedroom properties in 2018 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with Q2 2017 average weekly wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (most recent available) and Q4 2017 home price data from ATTOM Data Solutions publicly recorded sales deed data in 540 counties nationwide.
Rental affordability is average fair market rent for a three-bedroom property as a percentage of the average monthly wage (based on average weekly wages). Home buying affordability is the monthly house payment for a median-priced home (based on a 3 percent down payment and including mortgage, property tax, homeowner’s insurance and private mortgage insurance) as a percentage of the average monthly wage.