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As dwelling costs climb once more, it’s cheaper to lease within the largest metros

Home price increases are good news for real estate investors and existing homeowners, but for those trying to buy, now may not be the right time.

The latest reading of the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, which covers all nine census divisions, shows a 6.4% rise in February, picking up pace from January’s 6% rise.

Breaking down the stats further, the 10-City Composite was up 8% (7.4% in January) while the 20-City Composite gained 7.3% (6.6% in January). San Diego recorded an 11.4% increase followed by Chicago and Detroit at 8.9%.

“On a seasonal adjusted basis, our National, 10- and 20- City Composite indices continue to break through previous all-time highs set last year,” said Brian D. Luke, Head of Commodities, Real & Digital Assets at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Since the previous peak in prices in 2022, this marks the second time home prices have pushed higher in the face of economic uncertainty. The first decline followed the start of the Federal Reserve’s hiking cycle. The second decline followed the peak in average mortgage rates last October. Enthusiasm for potential Fed cuts and lower mortgage rates appears to have supported buyer behavior, driving the 10- and 20- City Composites to new highs.”

A recent report from CoreLogic found that Americans are keeping on top of their mortgage payments despite the challenging cost of living.


Meanwhile, Bankrate.com research found that it’s now cheaper to rent than buy in all 50 states.

The report looked at typical monthly mortgage and rent payments across the 50 largest U.S. metros. For a median-priced home ($412,778 according to Redfin), the analysis calculated a typical monthly mortgage payment of $2,703 (as of February 2024) while the typical national monthly rent was $1,979.

That means renters would pay 37% less for a roof over their head than buyers (albeit without the potential equity gains), but in 21 of the metros included the gap was 50%. Metros in the West had the largest buy-to-rent ratio led by San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA, where the gap was almost 181%.

“For those weighing whether they should rent or buy right now, all signs point to renting as the most cost-effective option in most major U.S. cities,” said Bankrate analyst Alex Gailey. “The combination of high home prices, elevated mortgage rates and low inventory creates a strong headwind for aspiring homeowners. Compared to a few years ago, Americans in the market for a home now either need to be able to make a significantly larger down payment or must allocate a larger portion of their monthly budget to their mortgage payment.”

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