Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top Ten Cities to Go From Renting To Buying

Quality of Life, at a Discount!

In these metro areas, now is a good time to make the jump to homeownership.

10 Cities To Go From Renting To Buying

The U.S. government has pushed hard to make homeowners out of one-third of Americans who still rent their homes. It introduced and later extended a tax credit for first-time home buyers, and has kept federal interest rates at their lowest levels since the 1940s.

Market conditions are such that now is a particularly good time for some renters to take the hint.

In Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., the premium to buy--the spread between what you'd spend on renting and what you'd pay each month for a mortgage--is far narrower now than its 15-year average. And economists predict a significant home-price hike in five years. So upgrading will cost much less than usual, and home buyers are likely to get a good return on their investment.

Note that buying isn't necessarily cheaper than renting in these metro areas. In fact, it often remains a more expensive proposition. But for those determined to own, that investment is a better one now than it normally is.

Portland, Ore. makes our list for much the same reason that San Francisco does: It's a picturesque, culture-driven city with good local services and amenities. The city is still not particularly cheap for buyers--but it's cheaper than normal.

A family hoping to put down roots there would normally pay a 62% premium to go from renting to buying. In the third quarter of 2009, however, that premium shrank by 16 percentage points. At the same time, Moody's Economy.com anticipates that home prices will jump 19% over the next five years. That's partly because, like San Francisco, Portland has strict government limitations on building and a coastal location that keep sprawl in check.

"Portland has one of the most controlled environments in the country in terms of development rights," says Stuart Gabriel, director of the Ziman Center for Real Estate at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. "Those supply constraints will push prices up."

The ten cities are:
San Francisco
Washington, DC

(picture and full story thanks to Forbes.com)

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