Renting a home in US is still more affordable than owning, new report shows

A new report shows that median three-bedroom rents are more affordable than owning a similarly-sized home in nearly 90% of local markets across the United States.

According to real estate data company ATTOM’s 2024 Rental Affordability Report, both renting and owning a home continue to pose significant challenges for average workers, consuming more than one-third of their wages in the vast majority of county-level housing markets.

Despite this, ATTOM found that median rental rates still required a smaller portion of average wages than major home-ownership expenses on three-bedroom properties in 296 of the 338 U.S. counties analyzed.

The analysis for this report incorporated 2024 rental prices and 2023 home prices, collected from ATTOM’s nationwide property database, as well as publicly recorded sales deed data licensed by ATTOM. Those two data sources were combined with average wage figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics


A "for rent" sign posted in front of an apartment building on June 02, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

"Finding an affordable home remains a daunting prospect around the country for average workers, regardless of whether they want to buy or rent," Rob Barber, CEO at ATTOM, said. "But the latest data shows that even as rents are growing faster, they remain more affordable than owning."

Houses, rental prices keep rising

ATTOM said the current conditions favoring renting over buying reflect a combination of housing market trends, including the elevation of home prices, which has prevented those with marginal finances from obtaining mortgages and leaving them with few options other than renting. 

Yet, home prices kept going up in 2023 despite rising mortgage rates, partly because of a tight supply of homes for sale.

Where in US it’s more affordable to buy

The only two counties with a population of more than 1 million where it is more affordable to buy than rent in 2024 are Riverside County, California and Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan. 

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Aside from Wayne County, the most affordable for owning among counties with a population of at least 1 million are Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio, St. Louis County, Missouri and Harris County (Houston), Texas.

Least affordable housing markets

The least affordable markets for owning among those analyzed are Marin County, California (outside San Francisco), Santa Cruz County, California, Orange County, California (outside Los Angeles), Kings County (Brooklyn), New York and Honolulu County, Hawaii.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.