Rent or buy? For a host of reasons, homeownership does look attractive.
Home prices have begun to bounce back, counterbalanced by mortgage interest rates that have hit record lows.
Even when closing costs, maintenance, taxes and insurance are factored in, owning can look appealing.
But buying still doesn't make sense for everyone, experts caution.
Broad conclusions like Trulia's rely on assumptions that don't apply to many, and on market projections that may or may not come true, they note.
The case for buying is stronger lately, but it still really depends on your specific situation.
That includes not only your finances, but also your best guess about where your life is headed.
"The bottom line is that if you don't plan to stay long in a home, it doesn't matter what the market is doing," says Seattle author Jane Hodges, whose book "Rent vs. Own" was published earlier this year.
"If you cannot reliably commit to at least five years — probably more — who cares if the financing is cheap or the buying environment has improved?"
Rent or buy? For decades the answer seemed like a no-brainer to most.
If you could own a home, that's what you did. It was deeply ingrained in American culture, reinforced by government policy.
The real-estate bust seriously undermined that time-honored precept. Renting an apartment in Glen Allen, VA took on a new luster, for those who value mobility as well as those wary of ownership's potential pitfalls.
Despite the recent recovery, 30% of King County homeowners with mortgages still owe lenders more than their homes are worth, according to online real-estate marketplace Zillow.
The typical buyers of 1999 would be farther ahead financially today if they had continued renting and invested the accrued savings in 10-year Treasury notes instead.
The decision to rent or buy still hinges on a host of variables that can radically alter the results of any mathematical comparison.
The equation assumes a certain down payment, a fixed rate mortgage at 3.5%, that they can itemized deductions and won’t sell for 7 years.
Change any of those above variables, Trulia acknowledges, and the balance between renting and owning can shift dramatically.
Renting actually is a little cheaper buyers who don't itemize deductions, must pay 4.5 percent interest on their loan, and sell after just three years, according to the company's model.
Of all those variables, how long you hang onto your home has the biggest impact. More years means more appreciation, at least in theory, and more gain after closing costs are paid.
It's the most critical factor in deciding whether to buy or rent.
With home prices apparently on the upswing again, those numbers may not stay so low for long. Interest rates, too, eventually will start to rise.
For more information on renting in Glen Allen, contact The Gardens.
The Seattle Times