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Home Buyers in Expensive Markets See a Longer Wait to Break Even than a Year Ago

It takes at least 1.5 years longer to break even on buying a home in the Bay Area than it did a year ago

- The national Breakeven Horizon is just under two years, about three weeks longer than it was a year ago.

- Buyers in the largest U.S. markets would break even on a home fastest in Indianapolis (1 year, 4 months), and take the longest to break even in San Jose (5 years, 2 months).

- In Washington, D.C., buyers can break even a year faster than a year ago.

Feb 2, 2017

SEATTLE, Feb. 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Home value appreciation is expected to slow in some of the nation's most expensive markets, and as a result, it now takes longer to break even on a home in those markets compared to renting it. Nationally, buying a home becomes a better financial decision than renting it in just under two years, according to the Q4 2016 Zillow® Breakeven Horizoni.

When home values grow quickly, home equity also accumulates faster, helping to offset and eventually recoup the large upfront costs of buying a home more quickly. But home value appreciation is slowing down in some places, especially expensive areas like Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. This makes building home equity a slower process, and the Breakeven Horizons in both the San Jose and San Francisco metros are nearly two years and 1.5 years longer, respectively, than they were the year before. No other major metros saw the Breakeven Horizon grow as much in a single year.

Home value appreciation isn't slowing everywhere. Home values in the Washington metro, for example, are expected to grow at a faster pace over the next year after staying largely flat recently, leading to a shorter Breakeven Horizon. Buyers in this area can now expect to break even after 3.5 years.

Overall, U.S. home value growth accelerated at the end of 2016, ending the year at a 6.8 percent annual appreciation rate. At the same time, rent appreciation slowed significantly, only growing at 1.5 percent annually. These shifting dynamics can make the question of whether to buy or rent less clear in many markets.  

"There are many factors that go into the decision on whether to rent or buy," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "Zillow's Breakeven Horizon can help people better understand the longer-term financial calculation. It's also helpful for buyers to understand that as home value appreciation moderates, it will take them longer to break even than in past years.  San Jose buyers, for example, will have to stay in a home for at least five years to offset the high upfront costs necessary to make that purchase."

Among the biggest U.S. metros, it takes the longest to break even on a home purchase in large California markets. In San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, the Breakeven Horizon is at least four years.

Buyers will break even fastest in the South and Midwest. In Indianapolis, Orlando, Detroit, Atlanta, and Tampa, it takes less than 1.5 years to break even on a home.

Metropolitan Area

Breakeven Horizon, 2016 Q4

Breakeven Horizon, 2015 Q4

United States

1 year, 11 months

1 year, 10 months

New York/Northern New Jersey

2 years, 6 months

3 years, 2 months

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

4 years, 2 months

4 years, 1 month

Chicago, IL

2 years

2 years, 1 month

Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

1 year, 6 months

1 year, 3 months

Philadelphia, PA

2 years, 5 months

2 years, 10 months

Houston, TX

1 year, 11 months

1 year, 5 months

Washington, DC

3 years, 6 months

4 years, 5 months

Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL

2 years, 3 months

2 years, 6 months

Atlanta, GA

1 year, 5 months

1 year, 5 months

Boston, MA

2 years, 8 months

3 years, 1 month

San Francisco, CA

4 years, 6 months

2 years, 11 months

Detroit, MI

1 year, 5 months

1 year, 4 months

Riverside, CA

2 years, 2 months

1 year, 10 months

Phoenix, AZ

2 years, 5 months

2 years, 4 months

Seattle, WA

2 years, 5 months

1 year, 11 months

Minneapolis-St Paul, MN

2 years, 3 months

2 years, 3 months

San Diego, CA

4 years, 1 month

3 years, 5 months

St. Louis, MO

1 year, 10 months

1 year, 9 months

Tampa, FL

1 year, 5 months

1 year, 11 months

Baltimore, MD

2 years, 5 months

3 years

Denver, CO

2 years, 3 months

1 year, 9 months

Pittsburgh, PA

2 years

1 year, 9 months

Portland, OR

2 years, 1 month

2 years, 1 month

Charlotte, NC

1 year, 8 months

1 year, 9 months

Sacramento, CA

2 years, 5 months

2 years, 1 month

San Antonio, TX

1 year, 9 months

1 year, 6 months

Orlando, FL

1 year, 5 months

1 year, 11 months

Cincinnati, OH

1 year, 8 months

1 year, 7 months

Cleveland, OH

1 year, 10 months

1 year, 6 months

Kansas City, MO

1 year, 7 months

1 year, 6 months

Las Vegas, NV

1 year, 10 months

1 year, 8 months

Columbus, OH

1 year, 9 months

1 year, 8 months

Indianapolis, IN

1 year, 4 months

1 year, 4 months

San Jose, CA

5 years, 2 months

3 years, 3 months

Austin, TX

2 years, 5 months

1 year, 11 months

Zillow

Zillow® is the leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help. In addition, Zillow operates an industry-leading economics and analytics bureau led by Zillow's Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. Dr. Gudell and her team of economists and data analysts produce extensive housing data and research covering more than 450 markets at Zillow Real Estate Research. Zillow also sponsors the quarterly Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, which asks more than 100 leading economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists to predict the path of the Zillow Home Value Index over the next five years. Launched in 2006, Zillow is owned and operated by Zillow Group (NASDAQ:Z and ZG), and headquartered in Seattle.

Zillow is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc.

i The breakeven horizon is the number of years after which buying is more financially advantageous than renting (at the precise breakeven horizon one can be indifferent between buying and renting). We compute the breakeven horizon for each household by comparing the costs of owning a home versus renting a home at the end of each year for 30 years (assuming the house is purchased using a 30 year fixed mortgage). Our buy versus rent analysis incorporated all possible costs incurred when purchasing a home as well as those incurred when renting a home to make the comparison between these costs as realistic as possible. The full methodology can be found here: http://www.zillow.com/research/rent-vs-buy-breakeven-horizon-analysis-methodology-updated-3549/

SOURCE Zillow

For further information: Media contact: Lauren Braun, Zillow, press@zillow.com


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