Here’s how long it takes Atlanta homeowners to break even on their purchase

by Joe Ward

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Now more than ever, residents of large American cities face a conundrum when deciding whether to rent or buy. Renting is increasingly popular in major markets as housing prices in these desirable areas keep creeping up. Now, Zillow has announced a tool to help people determine how long they would have to own a home in their market for it to be more financially viable than renting.

The online real estate giant has unveiled its “breakeven horizon” feature that shows at what point owning makes more financial sense than renting. Zillow calculates the average up-front costs of owning a home, like a down payment, mortgage, fees and insurance premiums and determines how long one would have to stay in a home to recoup those costs.

Nationwide, it would take two years and one month before it would make sense for someone paying the national median rent to buy a house at the national median value, according to Zillow.

In more expensive cities, the “breakeven horizon” is much longer, as it would take longer to recoup the higher home costs when compared to renting in those markets. But Atlanta’s breakeven horizon is below the national average, as it would take one year and seven months before it would be more financially viable than renting.

That’s the 43rdth longest breakeven horizon in the country, Zillow reports. Despite having relatively high monthly rent ($1,254), Atlanta homeowners enjoy an expected home value appreciation of 3.28 percent, meaning their home investment is recouped shorter than many other major American cities.

City Median Breakeven Horizon (yrs) Annual change in Breakeven Horizon Expected home value appreciation Zillow home value index Zillow rent index
Atlanta 1.7 0.38 3.28 $175,800 $1,254
Boston 2.7 -0.02 3.14 $419,900 $2,351
Chicago 2.2 0.22 2.44 $208,400 $1,618
Houston 2.4 0.97 1.54 $174,500 $1,544
Miami 2.7 0.26 0.52 $249,700 $1,849
National Average 2.1 0.41 2.89 $196,500 $1,408