For years my colleague David Leonhardt has been helping people calculate whether it makes more sense to rent or buy a home, based on the relative costs of each decision. This week, the economists at Capital Economics noticed an interesting phenomenon related to this tradeoff. For the first time in three decades, the median monthly mortgage payment is about the same as the median rental payment:
Of course, this chart is a little bit misleading because it excludes many of the upfront expenses of buying a home, like a down payment and closing costs. Perhaps more important, not everyone has the option to buy.
Credit conditions are still significantly tighter than they were a few years ago, despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to loosen credit markets. Many lenders now require a credit score of 700 as opposed to 650, the previous standard. Capital Economics estimates that that requirement alone has shut 13 million households out of the mortgage market.