Home prices are on the rise, but paying a mortgage is still more affordable than paying monthly rent, according to a report by online real estate marketplace Zillow.
An analysis of U.S. rental and mortgage affordability in the second quarter of this year revealed that the price of renting a home became less affordable over the last year, while mortgage affordability remained about the same.
Renters, on average, paid 30.2% of their monthly incomes for rent in the second quarter — "the highest percentage ever," Zillow reported. Buyers, on the other hand, devoted 15.1% of their incomes to mortgage payments, less than the historical highs of 1985 through 2000, when mortgage payments claimed 21.3% of the average homeowner’s monthly earnings.
The price of rent has a lot to do with the pace of homeownership.
“Our research found that unaffordable rents are making it hard for people to save for a down payment,” Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell said in a press release. Gudell noted that high rents also force tenants to skimp on saving for retirement and paying for healthcare.
Some good news for homebuilders: The Zillow analysts forecast that mortgage payments will remain affordable, even if mortgage interest rates climb as expected. In fact, if rates reach as high as 6% next year, homebuyers still will pay 30% or less of their incomes on mortgage payments in 265 of the 290 metropolitan areas, according to Zillow.
Mortgage payments under that scenario would still be considered more affordable than they were before the housing bubble in 72.1% of metros, while rents are already considered unaffordable — when compared with historic norms — in 77% of metros.
“With relatively stagnant wage growth,” the analysis concluded, “this likely won’t improve as rents keep climbing.”