Crunching the Numbers: Is it cheaper to rent or buy?

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 12:38 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Nationwide rent prices are going up and buying a house seems more out of reach every day.

Leaving many people in Chatham County asking which one is cheaper?

”2020 kind of gave us, these 250 sounds like the sweet spot, but we’re not really looking at those numbers anymore,” said realtor Quin Peterson.

Right now, you can find houses in Savannah listed for millions of dollars.

But what about for the people who can’t afford those historic homes?

”The average is about $315,000 for a property and that’s a 3-bedroom, 2 bathroom,” said Peterson.

While this results in a monthly mortgage rate some people appreciate, it’s the upfront costs that have people thinking renting is more affordable.

“For our average $315,000 we’re looking at about $9,000 for your loan down payment. There is an earnest deposit, so about $3,000 for that property. Then you have your inspection fee which is about $200-300. Then we have our closing cost which is about $3,000,” explained Peterson. " So, on average we’re looking at about $18,000 to $20,000.”

The WTOC Investigates team pulled numbers that renters are seeing.

According to data from Apartment List, the average apartment in the Savannah metro area was nearly $1,600 in August. But Just a few years ago in 2019, the average was about $450 a month cheaper. Creating a rent hike of almost 40% for the average renter.

Over in Beaufort County, the average apartment costs more than $1,800 a month in August, which is up from $1,286 back in 2019.

While the monthly price seems high, the upfront cost is lower compared to buying.

After speaking with apartment complexes in the area, we found that the average upfront cost is about $2,385. This includes costs like your first month’s rent, admin fees, application fees, and pest control.

Peterson says if there are programs that are available to help home buyers with their upfront costs. But, if you haven’t been saving, renting might be a better option.

“If you’re not someone who is looking to settle down in a particular area then maybe renting is a better option,” said Peterson.