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After reading an article about where to buy homes, I'm trying to do research on renting versus purchasing a home.

I'd like to figure out what the price to rent ratio is as one factor of my research.

Where can I find this information by region (I live in Dallas)?

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  • Which country are you in? Maybe include it as a tag! – Victor Jun 2 '12 at 0:52
  • Tags updated to US, arbitrage – f1StudentInUS Jun 2 '12 at 22:13
  • Chris, this is an arbitrage question with a twist: you cannot treat the location you want to live objectively. For example, why not SoCal instead of Texas? Yes, it's expensive but what if you account for the weather? This is something I am going to focus on myself, soon, as well. To guide this decision, please post your past and predictive cash flows as well so people can answer better. – f1StudentInUS Jun 2 '12 at 22:16
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Chris, this is an arbitrage question with a twist: you cannot treat the location you want to live objectively.

For example, why not SoCal instead of Texas?

Yes, SoCal's expensive but what if you account for the weather?

This question is very interesting for me personally: something I am going to focus on myself, soon, as well.

To the question at hand: it's very hard to get a close estimate of the price from a single source, say, a website.

The cost of a house is always negotiable and there's no sticker price, and there begins your problems.

However, there are some publicly available information which websites aggregate, see: http://www.city-data.com/

Also, some heuristics might help:

  1. Rent is at-least as expensive as the monthly mortgage, (property) taxes, HOA fees, etc.

    Smart people have told me this, and this also makes sense to me as the landlord is in this business to make some money after all.

    However, there are also other hidden costs of home ownership that I am not aware of in details (and which I craftily sidestepped in my "etc" above) that could put a rental to be "cheaper".

    One example that comes to mind is you as a tenant get to complain if the washer-dryer misbehaves and demand the landlord get you a new one (see how you wouldn't make a sound were you to own it however)

    Such a website to gauge rentals: http://www.rentometer.com/

  2. Houses cost more where the median income is more.

    Again, you cannot be objective about this because smart people like to live around smart people (and pay for the privilege).

    Turn again to http://www.city-data.com/ to get this information

  3. Better weather is more expensive than not so good weather.

    In the article you linked, notice the ratio of homes in California. Yes, I know of people who sold off their family ranches in Vancouver and Seattle to buy homes in Orange Country.

In short, there is a lot of information you would have to gather from multiple sources, and even then never be sure that you did your best!

This also includes arbitrage, as you would like to "come out ahead" and while you are doing your research (and paying your rent), you want to invest your "savings" in instruments where you earn more than what you would have saved in a mortgage, etc.

I would very much like to be refuted on every point and my answer be edited and "made better" as I need the same answers as you do :-D

Feel free to comment, edit your question etc and I will act on feedback and help both of us (and future readers) out!

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