Rent Vs Buy Today

NAR Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 5.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million in November, but are 27.9% below the cyclical peak of 6.49 million in November 2009, which was the initial deadline for the first-time buyer tax credit. Median existing single-family home prices rose year-over-year in 77 of 155 metropolitan areas and fell in 76 metro areas.

NAR Pending Sales

A forward-looking indicator, rose 10.4% based on contracts signed in October from in September. The index remains 20.5% below a surge to a cyclical peak in October 2009, which was the highest level since May 2006.

Rent Vs Buy

The argument for affordability has a few key components. Price, cost of money and a comparison to a similar property rental.

Home prices are running about 22% less than five years ago. Its hard to know when price has reached a point where willing buyers step up, but pending sales clearly point to a slowing trend. The Commerce Dept. report showed that new home sales rose 5.5 percent to an annual rate of 290,000 in November from the revised October rate of 275,000.

Price will continue to decline and increase affordability. There are some that think a double dip is in progress and we will see continuede price declines through 2011 or 2012.

Cost of Money
Lower tax rates just extended for another two years may boost growth. Mortgage rates responded by increasing to a six month high with rates up more than half a point in just the past month. NAR President Vicki Golder, points out: A decade ago, mortgage rates were almost double what they are today, and they’re about 1.5% lower than the peak of the housing boom....So still historically low.

Rates remain low and are still well below where they began the year. Low mortgage rates are an important factor affordability, which in October was the highest on record

Rent Comps
Rents increased for the second quarter in a row. Asking and effective rents increased by 0.5% and 0.6% respectively in the third quarter and vacancy rates dropped from 7.8% to 7.1% nationally.To summarize, price is dropping but cost of money is rising and so are rents. Most areas havent reached a balance between the cost of renting and the cost of buyi ng, probably the main arguement for home prices continuing to descend to meet a willing buyer.

Rule of thumb: Homes are probably fairly valued at about 15 times a year's rent. So, for example, if you're paying $15,000 a year to rent a place, think twice about buying a home that costs more than $225,000. Fifteen times is the historic average.

Your home is not a growth stock. You should look to justify multiples higher than 15 to 20 by considering personal needs, proximity to schools and transportation, your own cash flow situation and job security.

It would also be advisable to get a sense of what the property would likely rent for and see how far that rent would go towards paying the mortgage should you have to move. Home sales are slowing and if you find yourself a reluctant landlord, be sure you can carry the mortgage.

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