Renting Versus Owning in Manhattan: A Price Breakdown by Neighborhood
As the gap between the monthly cost of owning and renting a home in Manhattan has narrowed, many New York apartment hunters are asking themselves whether they should buy or not buy.
While mortgage rates remain historically low, rents continue rising: the median rent in Manhattan hit $3,100 in the first quarter of this year, which was 7.1 percent higher than the same period in 2011, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel. In some instances, rents are breaking records from before the financial crisis.
That has some New Yorkers taking a closer look at purchasing a home.
Factors to consider
If you have regular increases in rent, at some point, those with the down payment say it only makes sense for them to consider buying property.
Of course, the decision to rent or own depends on countless financial and personal considerations. For some, qualifying for a mortgage can be practically impossible these days, when exemplary credit and a 20 percent down payment have become the standard.
For others, the chance to invest in a saleable asset combined with the tax advantages of homeownership, give them more enough reason to leave the rental world behind.
But for many Manhattan apartment hunters who can afford to take either route, an important factor is the difference in fixed monthly costs — that is, the rent compared to the expense of mortgage payments, maintenance fees and real estate taxes, along with common charges for co-ops and condos.
The variables used in neighborhood comparison
Using data compiled and crunched by StreetEasy, numerous Manhattan neighborhoods were closely examined in order to get a better idea of how this slippery metric works.
Based on rental, co-op and condo listings in April, the listings provider determined the median asking price in each neighborhood. They calculated the median monthly taxes, the median monthly maintenance or common charges, and the average monthly mortgage payment, based on a 30-year fixed-rate loan with a 20 percent down payment and a 4 percent interest rate.
These findings were then compared to the median asking rent in each neighborhood to determine the difference between owning and renting.
Data shows co-ops least expensive
In Manhattan below 96th Street, the median asking rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $3,200 per month. The monthly cost of owning a one-bedroom co-op was $3,449 and a one-bedroom condo was $4,247.
Not surprisingly, the largest expense for monthly ownership was the mortgage payment, which itself is closely tied to the purchase price. That’s why the monthly ownership costs for co-ops, which are usually less expensive than condos, were lower than the median rent in a number of Manhattan communities such as Midtown, most of Chelsea and the East Village/Lower East Side.
In a few neighborhoods, renting markedly less than a mortgage payment
In contrast, that was only true of a couple of specific unit types in a few condo submarkets: four-plus-bedrooms in Battery Park City ($10,232 to own versus $15,250 to rent), Upper East Side three-bedrooms ($13,874 per month to own versus $15,000 to rent) and Midtown West/Clinton ($18,580 to own versus $20,500 to rent).
Studios in Battery Park City and Murray Hill/Kips Bay also made this list, but the difference between the cost of ownership and the cost of renting was minimal.
Based on the data, renting versus buying a home clearly favors co-ops right now when it comes to owning.
Markets favor purchasing entry-level homes
Tight credit markets aside, the spread between increasing rents and dropping financing costs is changing the balance of affordability, tipping it towards the entry-level buying side of the market.
Though on a monthly basis, units with more bedrooms are less expensive to rent than to own, especially when measured against smaller apartments within the same area. This is partly due to the scarcity of larger for-sale apartments, which can push up the price of available listings.