Buy vs. rent? Itís complicated

by Bob Strader

March 11, 2014

I read a statistic recently that said itís 52 percent cheaper to buy versus rent in the Atlanta mar-ket. I found this to be quite surprising, considering all the costs that go along with purchasing a home. Donít get me wrong. Personally, Iím very interested in having people buy homes rather than renting. But I was curious as to the accuracy of this report, so I thought it might be interest-ing to look at the numbers on the Northside.

I looked at the median sales price and median rent price for Forsyth County and North Fulton in February of this year. Then, I made a couple of assumptions. First, I assumed a 20 percent down payment for purchasing, no PMI and an interest rate of 4.131 percent. Based on that information, I compared the estimated mortgage payment to rent payment.

Median Sales Price Monthly Mortgage Median Rent Price

Forsyth County $260,000 $1,310 $1,450

North Fulton $366,000 $1,853 $1,650

Itís pretty clear that it isnít 52 percent cheaper to buy versus rent in our area. On the surface, itís cheaper to rent in North Fulton and slightly cheaper to purchase a home in Forsyth County. But these numbers donít tell the whole story.

Not included in the cost to purchase are annual home maintenance costs, closing costs or points on a loan, HOA dues and more. On the other hand, the tax benefit of owning a home versus rent-ing is not reflected either. There are even lost opportunity costs if you rent now and purchase down the road when home values are higher.

Renting gives you mobility, lets you get familiar with an area before buying and frees you of the attention a home takes. Owning lets you set roots, become more ingrained in the community and build equity. Which option is best? Itís complicated.

BUS 03-12-14