Apartment rents are rising rapidly, up 3.5 percent in 2015, then they are expected to moderate to 3.0 percent in 2016 and 2.7 percent in 2017, according to the Urban Land Institute. But home sales prices are rising even faster, tipping the scales of the rent vs buy equation towards rentals in the dollar for dollar comparisons Millennials face, according to the latest national housing market index produced by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University faculty.
As of the end of the first quarter of 2015, the housing market in the U.S. and all 13 cities in the index are trending either closer to renting being the superior option or strictly favoring renting over purchasing a home.
Three of the hottest real estate markets in the nation, Dallas, Denver and Houston, are clearly in rent territory, with property pricing out-pacing rents, meaning buyers should proceed with strong caution.
Seven more cities (Miami, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle) are at or near the indifference point between ownership and renting. Here the spread between monthly rent payments and ownership payments appears to be at a point where neither ownership nor renting is statistically favored.
Four cities (Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Detroit) remain in strong buy territory with scores that have historically favored wealth accumulation through home ownership.
No More Deals
“Potential buyers should be cognizant that ‘the deals’ are out of the marketplace and that it is essentially a tossup between rent and ownership as to which way will, on average, provide greater wealth accumulation,” said Ken Johnson, Ph.D., a real estate economist who is one of the index’s authors and an associate dean of graduate programs and professor in FAU’s College of Business. “Miami, in particular, deserves attention as it has been trending toward rent territory for several reporting periods. In Miami, potential buyers should seek to bargain more aggressively.”
The Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) index conducts a “horse race” comparison between an individual that is buying a home and an individual that rents a similar quality home and reinvests all monies otherwise invested in homeownership. Johnson’s collaborators in this ongoing independent research are Eli Beracha, Ph.D., assistant professor in the T&S Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU, and William G. Hardin III, Ph.D., director of the T&S Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU’s College of Business.
The index’s results are standardized between 1 and -1, with negative scores favoring ownership and positive scores favoring renting. The BH&J Index provides information on both the direction and health of varying housing markets, as well as collateral information for real estate professional, developers, lenders and housing policy makers.
The BH&J Index is published quarterly. Due to data availability and the time necessary to calculate the most current index values, the index is produced two months after the end of the quarter.