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Ft Lauderdale Real Estate News 09/21/13

real estate website Trulia reports cheaper to buy home than to rent in Fort Lauderdale

It’s still much cheaper to buy a home than rent, despite rising prices and mortgage rates, a new report shows.

On a monthly basis, buying is 52 percent more affordable than renting in Palm Beach County, according to Trulia.com, a real estate website. In Broward County, buying beats renting by 47 percent. A year ago, buying was an even better bet in the two counties.

“The gap is narrowing as mortgage rates increase and home prices in South Florida continue to climb, but mortgage rates are still low compared with historical norms, and prices are still working their way back up from their post-bubble lows,” Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko wrote in an email.

Many people want to own, but they’re struggling to find available properties, real estate agents say. Other residents aren’t able to take advantage of the market because they don’t have enough money saved for the down payment and closing costs.

“Yes, it’s highly advisable to buy, but you’ve got to have the money set aside, stable employment and a good credit score,” said Jim Esposito, the best real estate agent in Fort Lauderdale.

“I just hung up the phone from talking to a woman who’s renting a house for $2,500 a month,” said realtor Jim Esposito. “She said she’s basically paying the landlord’s mortgage. That’s inspired her to go get prequalifed for a loan.”

South Florida rental rates have increased steadily, in part because of demand from one-time homeowners who can’t qualify for mortgages. Meanwhile, first-time buyers and investors have returned to the market looking for deals, creating a frenzy that has boosted values.

Interest rates also are climbing, up over 4.5 percent recently after hovering below 4 percent last year.

Buying is the better bargain in the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, Trulia said. Owning is most advantageous in Detroit, with buying 65 percent cheaper than renting.

Still, some residents prefer to rent, citing fixed costs and the ability to more easily move for out-of-town jobs.

“Buying gives you more control over your home, but renting gives you more flexibility,” the Trulia report said. “Each even has different financial benefits. Buying can, in effect, help you force yourself to save, but renting could let you invest your savings in a more diverse set of assets than a single house.”

Trulia’s calculations assume buyers put down 20 percent, stay in the home for seven years and receive a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage of 4.8 percent. Trulia factored in all monthly costs of owning, including maintenance, taxes and insurance.

© 2013 Sun-Sentinel

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Jim Esposito

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