Photo: Lorna Mitchell/Flickr
Renters who choose to split their housing costs with a roommate might just end up saving more than those who choose to buy.
Of course, much of the math depends on where you live, says a new report by the listing site Trulia.
Trulia first began tracking the data in 2012, and for most of that time it says the benefits of buying have far outweighed the costs of renting. That is, assuming the homebuyer can afford to put 20 percent down, takes out a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage, and lives in the home for seven years.
At the national level, buying a home is 37.4 percent cheaper than renting. However, renting with a roomie shifts the scales in favor of renting, making renting 25.3 percent cheaper than buying the typical starter home.
In some ultra-expensive and hot markets, like San Jose, CA, getting a roomie is the obvious choice for consumers. Renters with a roomie can save almost 23 percent over buying in San Jose, considering the median priced home sells for $650,000 while the median priced rent is $1,800.
“The savings from renting with a roommate over buying a starter home in San Jose are the highest they have been in five years, representing a 22.7 percentage point advantage over this option in 2012,” says Trulia in the report.
The story is very much the same in another notoriously pricey West Coast market, San Francisco, where renters who split the costs can save over 16 percent compared to buying.
Sacramento, CA, Austin, TX and Ventura County, CA rounded out the top five cities where renting with roomies made more financial sense than buying the typical starter home.
“Since five years ago, exactly half of the 100 largest metros saw the savings from buying a starter home decrease or stay the same,” says Trulia.
And splitting housing costs has other advantages as well.
“Sharing rent might mean that these renters can put aside more for a down payment to eventually buy a home, and splitting the cost of utilities will put similarly more money in people’s pockets which can add up over time,” Trulia tells BuzzBuzzNews.
On the other end of the spectrum, residents of Detroit, MI see the greatest savings when buying a typical starter home in their city, even when compared to renting with roomies. Detroit homebuyers can save 57 percent when they choose to buy over renting.
West Palm Beach, FL, Knoxville, TN, Memphis, TN and Philadelphia, PA were among the cities where the savings earned from buying over renting was greater than 50 percent.
But while buying may be a smarter choice in these markets, finding a starter home may prove to be the real challenge.
“Starter home inventory dropped 20.4 percent year-over-year nationwide, and low inventory and stiff competition for house hunters may be enough of a deterrence for renters with roommates to stay put if the margin between renting and buying is slim,” says Trulia.
Click here to read the entire report.