Cities to Consider When Renting and Buying

low-housing-inventory

January is a natural time to take stock of your financial life, and to dream big dreams about 2018. Could this be the year you make the leap to homeownership? Or, will you make a big change and trade in your mortgage payment for a landlord?

In the complex calculus that’s required for the renting vs. buying decision, one variable stands out: Which is cheaper? If that seems like a hard question to answer, there’s a good reason: crunch the data from America’s largest cities, and you’ll learn it’s a perfectly split decision. According to an Urban Institute analysis, among 33 top metropolitan areas in the U.S., there are 17 places where buying is cheaper, and 16 where renting is cheaper. We’ll get to that list in a moment, but here’s a hint: renters in high-flying West coast cities might want to sit tight for a bit longer.

Renting vs Buying

Fewer life decisions carry more weight than the renting vs. buying dilemma. And that choice is getting harder. A generation ago, buying a home was seen as a rite of passage, a natural (and necessary) step towards adulthood. It was also a solid path to wealth. A $25,000 home purchased in 1970 was worth almost $100,000 by 1990, and about $200,000 today, using national average appreciation. Plenty of baby boomers who bought average-priced homes as young adults find themselves living in a nice nest egg now.

All that changed when the housing bubble burst. Millions lost their homes to foreclosure. Millions more found themselves “under water,” meaning their homes worth less than their mortgage balance. At the height of the housing recession, 23 percent of mortgage holders — nearly 1 in 4 — were under water. They’d lost money on their investment. The myth that housing prices can only go up has been busted. Many of those bubble-era buyers wished they were renting.

While the housing market has slowly recovered, blind faith in housing gains has not. Homeownership rates hit a 50-year low in 2015, and first-time home buyers are now waiting a record 6 years to move from renting to buying. In fact, young adults looking to upgrade out of their 1-bedroom apartments are increasingly renting single-family homes rather than buying. Single-family rentals – either detached homes or townhomes – make up the fastest-growing segment of the housing market, according to the Urban Institute.

But renting is no picnic either. With all these new renters, markets are reacting accordingly, and costs are now skyrocketing at about four times the rate of inflation. In some places, rents are up much higher. Seattle saw an average of 6.3 percent rent increases last year.

Such volatility in housing and rental prices isn’t the only reason the renting vs. buying equation bas become more complicated. Thanks to structural changes in employment — led by the various form of the gig economy and the contingent workforce — flexibility is key for workers. Gone are the days where a worker could buy a house with a 30-year mortgage and count on a consistent commute for the next three decades. People change jobs much more frequently now. Millennials experience four job changes by age 32, according to a LinkedIn study; they’ll move 6 times by age 30, according to 538.com

While it’s possible to sell a condo or house and move, it’s much easier for a renter to relocate for that great opportunity on the other coast.

Income Driven Decisions 

For most people, however, it comes down to money. You might think renting is always cheaper than buying, but that’s incorrect. A long list of variables must be considered when running the numbers, like these: How long will you stay in the place? How much are property taxes? How much investment opportunity cost will you pay when putting a large down payment into a home? How much will you spend on house repairs or condo fees? How much might your landlord raise the rent?

The Urban Institute provides an interesting answer to these questions by comparing the percent of monthly income a buyer or renter would have to spend to own or rent an average home in cities around the country. To ease the comparison, the constants are pretty simple. The report assumes median income, then calculates how of that monthly paycheck would be eaten up by owning – including mortgage payments, interest, taxes, and insurance payments on a median-priced home – or by renting a median-priced 3-bedroom home.

Ordinarily, these costs have to move relatively in sync. When rents get too high, consumers are pushed into buying. The opposite is true, too — when homes/monthly mortgage payments are too high, people are nudged to rent. So these costs tend to move together, or at least like two balloons tied together by a string, floating up into the sky: One pulls ahead for a short while, then the other, and so on. After all, people have to live somewhere.

Cities Good for Renting

But in some cities, these rules don’t seem to apply at the moment, and either renting or buying has sprinted ahead. In those places, you might say the market is broken. The Urban Institute calls this the “rent gap.” In eight large cities in the US — all on the West Coast — the rent gap is higher than 4 percent, meaning it’s considerably cheaper to rent than buy. But on the other hand, there are six major cities spread throughout the East and the Midwest where buying is cheaper, using this monthly costs test. In between are 19 cities where rental and buying costs are basically running neck-and-neck.

The rent gap is most pronounced in places where housing prices have soared. San Francisco is the clear “winner” in the places where renting is cheaper than buying; there, the gap is more than 42 percent. San Jose comes in second at 19%. Seattle, San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Portland round out the list of places where the gap is higher than 5 percent.

Cities Good for Home Buying

On the other side of the list — places where buying is cheaper than renting — begins with the winner, Miami.

It would be a stretch to call Miami a bargain, however. A median-priced home still consumes 32 percent of a median earner’s income, above the recommended 30 percent. Still, renting devours even more.

“Because Miami is the second-most-expensive city for rental housing, however, the median rent consumes 42 percent of the median income. So even at this high cost, homeownership is still the better bet,” the report says.

Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Tampa, and Pittsburgh round out the list of places where the rent gap is 5% or more towards buying.

There are buying “bargains” in other cities, too. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Orlando, Houston, and San Antonio all enjoy rent gaps that are more than two percent.

What to Consider

This list comes loaded with caveats, however. The biggest one: Purchasing a home brings the potential of appreciation, and renting does not. That means buyers can “profit” over time and see the value of their investment rise. The longer the time living in the purchased home, the higher the odds that significant appreciation will occur. But don’t forget, transaction costs are significant. Not all those gains are “profit.” Closing costs when buying, and then later when selling, can easily eat up 10% of those gains. Then, there’s always the chance the value of the home will go down, re-creating the situation from the early part of this decade, when buyers lose money. And of course, there’s the variable every homeowner loves to hate, surprise repair costs. Renters generally don’t face that risk.

In the end, the renting vs. buying choice is intensely personal, and always depends on your family’s very specific situation. It’s unwise to ignore macro trends, however. Even if you live in a city where housing costs seem high, it’s worth considering a purchase if rental costs are soaring, too. On the other hand, don’t simply assuming that buying is better. That’s 20th Century logic which no longer applies to the U.S. housing market.

 

If you’re wondering if your credit it good enough to buy or rent, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get two free credit scores updated each month.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

 

Image: iStock

The post Cities to Consider When Renting and Buying appeared first on Credit.com.

Review of USAA CD Rates

USAA CD rates
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Founded and based in San Antonio, USAA is an FDIC-insured bank, insurance and financial services company that serves current and former military members and their families. Started by 25 U.S. Army officers, USAA has since grown to more than 11 million members. Most of their products are only available to USAA members, who are military members or their families.

USAA won a number of awards in 2016, including the title World’s Most Ethical Company from the Ethisphere Institute. It scored top rankings in the bank, insurance, and credit card categories in the Temkin Customer Service Ratings from 2013 to 2016.

Looking beyond high customer service standards, USAA CD rates are pretty comparable to the national average, though with some products they are significantly lower. Minimum deposit requirements are lower than with many similar products, though there are CDs out there with better rates and lower minimum deposits than USAA’s CDs. If you’re a member of the military (or a family member of military member) and looking for a bank that offers a wide variety of products as well as excellent customer service, USAA could be a good bet if you’re will to make the tradeoff for lower CD rates.

USAA Fixed-Rate CDs

A USAA fixed-rate CD is for those who intend to make one deposit to get a guaranteed rate of return over the agreed-upon term. Once you make your initial deposit (which differs depending on the type of CD you choose), your interest rate is set for the duration of the CD term. You are not allowed to make any additional deposits into your CD account after the initial amount.

Interest accumulates daily, and you have the choice to keep any interest earned in the CD until it matures (the interest will compound monthly) or have it paid out monthly to an account of your choosing. The CD will not be renewed automatically once it matures, though you have the option to do so if you want. If not, all the money in the account will be paid into an investment account until you withdraw it or invest it in another type of account.

Early-withdrawal penalties apply depending on the term of your CD:

  • Terms of 30 days or less: 30 days’ worth of interest
  • 30 days to 364 days: 90 days’ interest
  • 365 days to five years: 180 days’ interest
  • Five years or more: 365 days’ interest

Also, if you make a withdrawal within six calendar days of a deposit or another withdrawal, you’ll have to pay at least seven days’ worth of interest.

Standard rates

A standard CD requires a minimum deposit of $1,000 and up to a maximum of $95,000. This type of account is best for those who do not have a large amount of money to invest and want a guaranteed rate for their savings.

CD Term

APY

91 days

0.30%

182 days

0.56%

7 months

0.56%

270 days

0.66%

1 year

0.71%

15 months

0.95%

18 months

0.76%

2 years

0.81%

30 months

1.26%

3 years

0.91%

4 years

1.46%

5 years

1.06%

7 years

1.06%

As of 1/3/2018

USAA fixed jumbo CD rates

Fixed jumbo CDs require a minimum deposit of $95,000 and a maximum amount up to $175,000.

CD Term

APY

30 days

0.22%

91 days

0.35%

120 days

0.45%

150 days

0.50%

182 days

0.61%

7 months

0.61%

270 days

0.71%

1 year

0.76%

15 months

1.00%

18 months

0.81%

2 years

0.86%

30 months

1.31%

3 years

0.96%

4 years

1.51%

5 years

1.11%

7 years

1.11%

As of 1/3/2018.

USAA fixed super jumbo CD rates

Fixed super jumbo CDs require a minimum deposit of at least $175,000 with no maximum amount. However, FDIC only insures up to $250,000.

CD Term

APY

30 days

0.22%

91 days

0.35%

120 days

0.45%

150 days

0.50%

182 days

0.61%

7 months

0.61%

270 days

0.71%

1 year

0.76%

15 months

1.06%

18 months

0.81%

2 years

0.86%

30 months

1.36%

3 years

0.96%

4 years

1.56%

5 years

1.11%

7 years

1.11%

As of 1/3/2018

USAA Adjustable-Rate CDs

Like the fixed-rate CDs, the interest rate is locked for the entirety of the agreed term with an adjustable-rate CD. All interest is compounded daily starting on your settlement date (the actual date when your deposit goes into your account) and the interest either paid out monthly or kept in the account until your CD matures. Your CD will not be automatically renewed. Instead the money will be put into an investment account until you decide to put it back into another CD account or withdraw the entire balance.

Unlike with the fixed-rate CD, however, you can adjust your rate once during your CD term as well as make one other deposit when you request a rate adjustment. If rates go up, you can make an adjustment up to a 2 percent increase. The additional deposit needs to be a minimum of $25.

Early-withdrawal penalties are the same as with the fixed-rate CD:

  • Terms of 30 days or less: 30 days’ worth of interest
  • 30 days to 364 days: 90 days’ interest
  • 365 days to five years: 180 days’ interest
  • Five years or more: 365 days’ interest

In addition, you will be required to pay at least seven days’ worth of interest if you withdrawal money within six calendar days of either a deposit or another withdrawal from your account.

Standard rates

The minimum opening deposit for an adjustable standard CD account is $1,000. You’re allowed up to a maximum of $95,000. Otherwise, you will need to open an adjustable jumbo CD account.

CD Term

APY

3 years

0.12%

4 years

0.31%

5 years

0.43%

7 years

0.43%

As of 1/3/2018

Jumbo rates

Adjustable Jumbo CDs need a $95,000 minimum deposit and rates are applicable up to $175,000.

CD Term

APY

3 years

0.17%

4 years

0.36%

5 years

0.48%

7 years

0.48%

As of 1/3/2018

Super jumbo rates

Adjustable super jumbo CDs have a minimum deposit of $175,000 with no limits on how much you can keep in your account. Keep in mind that FDIC insures up to $250,000 in your account.

CD Term

APY

3 years

0.17%

4 years

0.36%

5 years

0.48%

7 years

0.48%

As of 1/3/2018

USAA variable-rate CDs

This type of CD account is best suited to those who want the ability to make more than one deposit any time they choose. The rate tends to be lower than the other CDs of the same term length, but you are allowed to make as many additional deposits as you like without extending the maturity date, as long it’s $25 or more each time. This could help you earn more on your deposits than you would with a traditional savings account, though there are better rates to be had among those products, as well.

Unlike the fixed- and adjustable-rate CDs, the interest rate on a variable-rate CD may fluctuate daily so earnings may be affected. However, interest is compounded daily and just like the other CD accounts and you can either keep earned interest with the CD balance and allow the interest to compound, or you can have it paid out to another account every month.

There are also early-withdrawal penalties with a variable rate CD. You’ll be charged 30 days’ worth of interest if you take your money out before the maturity date.

CD Term

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

182 days

0.46%

$250

1 year

0.46%

$250

As of 1/3/2018

Overall review on USAA’s CD rates

Above all, it’s important to remember that only USAA members can get its products, so if you’re not eligible formembership, USAA CDs aren’t an option for you.USAA’s CD rates are not as competitive as other institutions’ products (you can see the best CD rates in our monthly roundup). While the $1,000 minimum deposit requirement is lower than some other banks that offer higher APYs on their CDs, you can get a better CD rate on accounts with deposit requirements as low as $500. While the rates for jumbo and super jumbo CDs are better than its standard offers, you can find better rates.

One of the main advantages of opening a CD with USAA is the ability to bump up your rate with an adjustable-rate CD, as other banks don’t always offer this option.. It’s important to note that a rate increase is not guaranteed. However, you are given an opportunity to make another deposit into your account before maturity.

As for USAA’s variable-rate CD, you may be better off opening a high-interest savings account if you’re looking for an account with a good APY and some liquidity.

Overall, if you want a bank with excellent customer service and the ability to choose from a wide variety of services, USAA is a good option. USAA may be your best choice if you want your CDs at a bank that understands needs specific to military members and their families. But if high yields are your priority, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

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