Rents heading up. Affordability for home owner ship at 15 year best. Time to buy a home?

The Wall Street Journal reports stronger lure for prospective home buyers with the monthly cost of owning a home more affordable now than at any point in the past 15 years, homeownership is becoming less expensive than renting in a growing number of cities.

  • The Wall Street Journal’s third-quarter survey of housing-market conditions in 28 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas found that home values declined in all but five markets compared with the second quarter, according to data from Zillow Inc.
  • Meanwhile, rent levels have risen briskly across the country and mortgage rates, hovering around 4 percent, are the lowest in six decades.  As a result, monthly mortgage payments on the median priced home – including taxes and insurance – are lower than the average rent levels in 12 metro areas, according to data compiled by Marcus & Millichap.
  • Homeownership also is looking more affordable because after several years of declines, apartment rents will rise approximately 4 percent this year, and rents are poised to pick up even more momentum across the country next year, according to Marcus & Millichap.
  • Affordability could continue to improve as prices slide even lower in coming months. Price declines are likely because the share of “distressed” sales, including bank-owned foreclosures, tend to rise in the winter, when traditional sales activity cools.