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66 Cities where it makes sense to buy!


 

Falling prices make homeownership increasingly realistic in some areas. Just don't expect to make a fast buck.

At todays historic rates your equity can grow even faster!

By Marilyn Lewis, MSN Real Estate

With house prices falling around the country, many renters are wondering if this is the time to jump in and score a deal.

Of the 100 most populous metro areas, 57 have average three-bedroom rental costs higher than the cost of a 6% loan for a typical low-priced house, including Little Rock, Ark., and Akron, Ohio. (The study's authors defined low-priced as 75% of the area's median.) Those renting two-bedroom apartments would be better off buying a low-priced home at a loan rate of 6% in 24 of the 100 largest metro areas.

Of course, a crucial component for renters looking to make the leap is credit history. A prospective buyer with credit worthy of a 6% mortgage will pay a third less in monthly payments than someone who qualifies for an 8% loan – in many cities that can be a difference of hundreds of dollars and push them over the line to where renting actually makes more sense.

Even more interesting to potential homebuyers is the chance to build equity. Here, too, there's good news for many major metros. In 66 of the top 100 markets, you'd be in the black in four years should you buy a low-priced home today.

It’s a home, not a get-rich-quick scheme
Safe doesn't mean profitable, however. With prices falling in many markets, housing is too risky these days to expect you'll make money on a house deal, experts caution. The object now is to avoid losing money.

"Don't expect these markets to take off," says Danilo Pelletiere, research director for the National Low Income Housing Coalition and co-author of the study, "Ownership, Rental Costs and the Prospects of Building Home Equity."

Buyers should look at the purchase as a conservative investment that's unlikely to pay off like an oil-patch scheme and may even lose value, Pelletiere, says. Base the decision on more than profit, on intangibles like the chance to build stability, to join a community, to enjoy a neighborhood or love living in a particular home.

"I wouldn't want anybody to interpret this data as saying here's where you should put your money," Pelletiere says. "What I am saying is, if you want to put your money into a home, these are the cities where owning makes sense."

How much equity you'd have by 2012 if you bought a low-priced home today…

Metro area

6% loan

7% loan

8% loan

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

$90,437

$89,871

$89,381

San Antonio

$90,017

$89,064

$88,239

New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La. 

$88,907

$87,473

$86,232

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas 

$87,837

$86,703

$85,721

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas 

$83,880

$82,669

$81,620

Rochester, N.Y. 

$82,898

$81,898

$81,032

Syracuse, N.Y. 

$80,231

$79,341

$78,571

Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y. 

$77,934

$77,045

$76,275

Jackson, Miss.

$77,648

$76,659

$75,804

Austin-Round Rock, Texas

$70,007

$68,530

$67,251

Memphis, Tenn.-Mississippi-Arkansas *

$68,348

$67,286

$66,367

Baton Rouge, La. 

$61,802

$60,648

$59,651

Pittsburgh

$61,174

$60,221

$59,397

Tulsa, Okla. 

$58,599

$57,624

$56,780

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark. 

$58,420

$57,416

$56,548

Augusta, Ga.-Richmond County, S.C. 

$57,424

$ 56,465

$55,636

Lakeland, Fla.

$56,960

$55,793

$54,784

Columbia, S.C

$55,993

$54,936

$54,022

El Paso, Texas 

$55,100

$54,316

$53,637

Akron, Ohio 

$54,594

$53,410

$52,387

Greensboro-High Point, N.C. 

$54,592

$53,463

$52,485

Oklahoma City 

$54,431

$53,475

$52,648

Youngstown-Warren, Ohio-Boardman, Pa. 

$54,014

$53,176

$52,450

Wichita, Kan. 

$53,684

$52,764

$51,968

Dayton, Ohio 

$51,393

$50,327

$49,405

Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. 

$50,599

$49,241

$48,067

Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind. 

$49,520

$48,330

$47,300

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y. 

$49,104

$47,630

$46,355

Omaha, Neb.-Council Bluffs, Iowa 

$47,823

$46,654

$45,643

Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. 

$47,404

$46,276

$45,300

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. 

$46,314

$44,730

$43,360

Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 

$46,251

$45,254

$44,391

Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa 

$46,078

$44,844

$43,776

Kansas City, Mo.-Kansas City, Kan. 

$45,699

$44,413

$43,300

Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio 

$45,251

$44,025

$42,964

Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.

$44,484

$43,304

$42,282

Toledo, Ohio 

$44,009

$42,928

$41,992

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. 

$41,847

$40,237

$38,843

Chattanooga, Tenn.-Georgia *

$41,025

$39,955

$39,029

Cincinnati-Middletown, Ind.-Kentucky  *

$40,454

$39,184

$38,086

Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, S.C. 

$40,268

$39,169

$38,218

Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa. 

$37,456

$36,168

$35,054

Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine 

$37,197

$35,204

$33,479

New Haven-Milford, Conn. 

$36,521

$34,284

$32,348

Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla. 

$36,217

$34,643

$33,281

Charleston-North Charleston, S.C. 

$35,592

$34,062

$32,738

Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky.-Indiana *

$33,003

$31,809

$30,775

St. Louis -Illinois *

$32,933

$31,630

$30,503

Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Fla. 

$31,544

$29,577

$27,875

Charlotte-Gastonia, N.C.-Concord, S.C. 

$29,919

$28,524

$27,318

Columbus, Ohio 

$28,982

$27,628

$26,457

Albuquerque, N.M. 

$28,805

$27,356

$26,102

Jacksonville, Fla. 

$26,832

$25,241

$23,863

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn. 

$26,567

$25,181

$23,982

Knoxville, Tenn. 

$24,862

$23,663

$22,625

Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla. 

$23,090

$21,467

$20,063

Richmond, Va. 

$21,500

$19,740

$18,217

Raleigh-Cary, N.C. 

$19,004

$17,386

$15,985

Springfield, Mass. 

$16,338

$14,591

$13,079

Philadelphia-Camden, N.J.-Wilmington, Del. -Maryland *

$14,492

$12,532

$10,836

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn. 

$13,494

$11,405

$9,598

Allentown-Bethlehem, Pa.-Easton, N.J. 

$12,779

$11,063

$9,578

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. 

$12,745

$11,076

$9,632

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-North Carolina *

$10,449

$8,515

$6,842

Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla. 

$9,400

$7,433

$5,730

Colorado Springs, Colo. 

$4,482

$2,736

$1,224

Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research and the National Low Income Housing Coalition
  * Metropolitan area extends across state borders

The answer, of course, depends on where you live. In much of the U.S., you're better off buying despite falling home values, say new data compiled by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Center for Economic and Policy Research.