While it’s still more affordable to buy a home than it is to rent in most places across the U.S., that gap is narrowing.
Attom Data Solutions LLC, a property-data provider based in Irvine, California, recently analyzed where it’s more affordable to either own a median-priced home or to pay the average rent on a three-bedroom rental unit, across 1,154 counties in its 2022 Rental Affordability Report.
It found, despite home prices growing faster than rents in 90% of the U.S., it’s typically more affordable to own a home in 666, or 58%, of counties, analyzed.
But much depends on the geography of a metropolitan area and, drilling down further, urban versus suburban versus rural counties. Attom found, among less-populous suburban and rural areas, homeownership tends to outweigh renting more visibly, whereas renting generally remains more affordable in the biggest, and more urban, metropolitan areas across the U.S.
Attom’s analysis used recently released fair market rent data for 2022 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and public-record sales-deed data from Attom.
In the St. Louis region, it’s more affordable to buy in nine of the 12 counties analyzed.
But in the area’s largest county by population, St. Louis County, Attom found it’s cheaper to rent. There the median rental rate for a three-bedroom apartment in 2022 is $1,319, it said. The county’s median home sale price from January to November 2021 was $203,000.
The two other counties where it’s cheaper to rent were St. Charles ($1,319 rent versus $293,750 home sale price) and Monroe County in Illinois ($1,319 rent versus $212,500 home sale price). (Note that rents listed are the same across most of the St. Louis metropolitan statistical area, based on HUD data used in Attom’s analysis.)
In the nine other St. Louis-area counties analyzed, it was cheaper to buy a home:
- Clinton ($1,319 rent versus $140,667 home sale price)
- Franklin ($1,319 rent versus $212,563 home sale price)
- Jefferson ($1,319 rent versus $213,400 home sale price)
- Lincoln ($1,319 rent versus $234,848 home sale price)
- Macoupin ($1,021 rent versus $83,167 home sale price)
- Madison ($1,319 rent versus $138,013 home sale price)
- St. Clair ($1,319 rent versus $145,100 home sale price)
- St. Louis city ($1,319 rent versus $160,000 home sale price)
- Warren ($1,319 rent versus $215,000 home sale price)
Geographically, the South and Midwest contain the most affordable for-sale and rental housing markets. Attom considered average wages relative to local home prices in determining affordability for its analysis.
- It found the least-affordable counties for homeownership across the U.S. are Summit County, Colorado; Eagle County, Colorado; Marin County, California; Santa Cruz County, California; and Summit County, Utah.
- The most affordable for owning, among counties with a population of at least 1 million, are Wayne County, Michigan; Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; and Harris County, Texas.
- The most affordable rental markets with populations of 1 million or more are similar: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Fulton County, Georgia; Oakland County, Michigan; and Franklin County, Ohio.
- The least-affordable rental markets across the nation are Santa Cruz County, California; Kauai County, Hawaii; Honolulu County, Hawaii; Santa Barbara County, California; and Monterey County, California.