Blog :: 05-2014

Green building booms in Asheville

After the Great Recession put the brakes on a high-end housing bubble in 2009, an emerging green boom has put new life in Asheville's housing market.

From : www.citizen-times.com/

By : Dale Neal

ASHEVILLE - After the Great Recession put the brakes on the drive toward high-end housing, an emerging green trend has put new life into Asheville's real estate market.

Green building accounts for about half of the new home construction underway inside the city limits -- 25 certified green homes out of 59 new single family projects. West Asheville is even hotter for green building -- eight of the last 13 home projects that sold and closed in the past six months were certified green.

Green homes are still a fraction of the total Buncombe County market, where some 1,300 homes, mostly existing, are up for sale. But builders, real estate professionals and others are seeing an edge for a home that's certified to be energy-efficient, conserves water, pollutes less into the atmosphere and has better indoor air quality.

These homes aren't just advertised as having green features, but are specially inspected and certified along a long checklist that includes technical and specific guidelines requiring more insulation, tighter windows and doors, more efficient heating and cooling systems, even the landscaping outside to prevent runoff.

A focus on green building has given an edge to builders and real estate professionals as consumers started looking at smaller, quality-built homes that will save them money on power bills.

West Asheville leads way

Green fits with the urban ethic of Asheville as more consumers are looking to walk or bike to work, shop or dine out. And West Asheville is the epicenter for the green boom given the recent construction starts, according to developer James Boren.

"West Asheville is teaching Asheville about green, and Asheville has embraced it. Asheville is going to teach the rest of the Southeast, Charlotte and Charleston and Florida," Boren said. "Green is going to be the norm for all new construction in the next 10 years."

Boren got his start as a builder in Charleston, S.C., often working on high-end custom homes in the Low Country and in Florida. Over the past 25 years, he's built about 100 structures, but he decided to change his focus when he moved to Asheville about five years ago.

With his Green Earth Developments, Boren has about 18 green projects ongoing around Asheville. He's working closely with building contractor Beach Hensley, who's gone exclusively green in his construction in the past decade.

"We're seeing a demographic who are seeking it out. They are looking not just to save on their utility bills, but they like the satisfaction of helping the planet," Boren said on the porch of an unusually green cottage he remodeled on Narbeth Avenue.

(Check out the listing for 64 Narbeth mentioned in this article here)

64 Narbeth

64 Narbeth with Green roof

 

(Here are some beautiful Green homes recently sold by Town and Mountain Realty Agents: Amanda Boren {also the wife of James Boren mentioned in this article}, Jody Whitehurst, and Robbie McLucas)

 

36 Samoya Place Asheville

Green Home Sold by Amanda Boren

72 Houston St Asheville

Green Home Sold by Robbie McLucas

Green Home Sold by Jody Whitehurst

Green Home Sold by Jody Whitehurst

Boren layered the shingle roof with containers of sedum, a hearty green plant that creates a no-fuss a green roof with plenty of insulation in both winter and summer

Next door, Hensley's workers are framing up another home for Boren, tucking a well-designed home on a footprint to save some mature hardwoods. Boren doesn't see much point in clear-cutting a lot to then put a green home.

That green sensibility extends not just in the house, but the whole construction process. Boren runs his trucks on compressed natural gas, trying to cut down on his carbon footprint. "It's part of our responsibility," he said.

For Hensley, "sensibly crafted homes" makes more sense as a tag-line as green becomes more common and building codes require higher grade insulation and less duct leakage.

And more consumers are seeing "green" as synonymous with "quality," since most green homes will boast granite counter tops and tile in the kitchen, hardwood flooring and other amenities.

While many designs will incorporate passive solar features such as windows and skylights for heating and light, green homes don't necessarily feature solar power. Tax credits go to homeowners rather than builders who leave it to a buyer to add solar panels.

A green home means smarter construction with higher insulation and tighter envelopes that keep heat from escaping the house in winter, or cooler air in summer, while letting in ample fresh air and plenty of light. There's also a focus on building materials that aren't toxic or omit any noxious smells or chemicals.

Locally sourced hardwood harvested from Western North Carolina forests also counts since less gas is burned to haul the wood to the site.

"The main reason for people to buy green is the energy efficiency, but there are a lot of buyers 50 years and up who are looking for better indoor air quality," Love said.

Green can cover a range of architectural styles from modern to more traditional arts and crafts. Hensley's finding a ready market for homes prices at $350, 000 up to $500,000.

But as more people want a green home in an Asheville neighborhood, demand is not keeping up and prices are starting to rise. "It's hard to find a green home for $350,000" Figura said.

While mortgages are standardized for homes, Figura said banks have become more willing in recent years to finance green builders, seeing how well the product has been moving.

"Green is not a fad. It's here's to stay in Asheville."

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Home Buying And Selling ╗ Most Important Things To Mention In Home Marketing

From: www.acgnow.com

By: Jonathan Katz

If you have a home with commercial-grade, occupied acres of land or have the most famous neighbor, it makes it easy to market when selling short sale home. But, if your house is located in normal neighborhood, there may be a number of things that can attract a buyer. If you mention these things in short sale listing, it may help selling your home quickly.

Here are most important things that should be mentioned in home marketing. 

Storage:

You know that your home has a number of awesome things, but it is useless unless you mention these things while marketing your home. Goal of good marketing is to highlight these things that will allow your home to shine in the eyes of your potential buyers and will help bringing the more offers.

One common problem with homes is, they lack storage which leads to belonging overflow and cluttered lifestyle. A bigger storage can inspire many buyers to look forward for buying your home. So, if your home has extra closets, pantries or other built-in storage amenities, make sure they are highlighted in your listing. A home with extra storage is a great opportunity for buyers to make their things settled in a better way and have a comfortable lifestyle.

Organizing Systems

If you have invested in organizing system, it's a great help selling your home at higher prices. The house that is upgraded with customized or built-in closet, desks or bookshelves, kitchen or garage organizer systems will attract more buyers if this is properly highlighted on the listing. The majority of the buyers wants a clutter-free lifestyle and look for enough space for everyone. Having extra features is always good.

Proximity

Some buyers might not know your zip code or might not be aware of your hidden gem of a neighborhood. It also happens to be tucked within a half mile of a subway station, entrances to three freeways and two regional parks. Buyer's proximity list may be different that the location requirements when they are searching online for homes. They might be looking for all the houses in the town that fall under their price range, but the fact that yours is walking distance to a major employer or university, could push yours to the top of the list.

It is only you that know your home is perfectly located, but a new buyer might not know the exact location just looking at the map. It is suggested mentioning the each and every detail that can help a buyer to find your home. Don't assume, if your home is particularly well-located near major universities, employers, recreational amenities or walk-able shopping and dining districts, you should talk with your agent about showcasing this in your home's marketing.

Senior-Friendly Features

Buyers are not always looking for homes that support the life of disable people, but they might be looking for a home where they can live their whole life. Homes that have no stairs to the front door, single story layout and low maintenance landscape have a massive attraction for the buyers who wish to stay rest of the life in the same house. If a senior citizen is looking for buying a home he may not be interested in a home that has a loads of stairs or other features that are difficult to navigate easily.

Energy Efficiency

Energy saving may be a great factor to attract more buyers. If your home has budget-friendliness or energy efficient features, chances are great that it will attract the more potentials buyers. So, if your home has tank-less water heater, dual-paned windows or new insulation, these are worth mentioning things. If you have got your energy bills down below the normal in your area, this could be your selling point that you should not overlook. Your selling agent can help marketing this feature to get better price quotes.

Green Lifestyle Features

If you have managed home to allow inhabitants to live a green life, beyond just the energy bills, this is the thing to mention in your home marketing. Organic kitchen garden, backyard compost bin, recycling center are the little things that may not add a great value to your home, but can attract a number of buyers that are looking for a green life style. If your home has these features you should mention such things on your home marketing material.

Hypoallergenic Home Maintenance

If your home has chemical-free and hypoallergenic HVAC system or have only used non-chemical cleaning products for the last few years, you should mention such kinds of things on your home marketing material. Consumers are not only careful about what they put into their bodies, but also what they put on their bodies. The cleaning and maintenance products you've used may implicate both 'on' and 'around,' so if you've taken care to create a home that works well for people with physical or philosophical sensitivities to common household chemicals, make sure light-green buyers know it!

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Fall in love with Asheville and WNC!

By : Karen Chávez
From : Asheville Citizen-Times

Love at first sight not only happens with people and puppies, it can strike with places as well. Especially when that place is the outdoor lover's mega paradise -- the mountains of Western North Carolina.

There are plenty of romantic settings near Asheville for sure, such as the forested setting of Skinny Dip Falls off the Blue Ridge Parkway, watching the sunset from Mount Leconte in the Smokies or spending a day exploring the trails and walking paths of the Biltmore Estate.

But you don't have to get naked, go far or spend much to enjoy time with a sweetheart in the great outdoors.

Allison Barr, a first-grade teacher at Mills River Elementary, said she and husband, Peter, often enjoy outdoors dates. The two were married in the chapel in Cataloochee Valley and like to hike there and on the Blue Ridge Parkway when weather allows.

Peter Barr, who has written a hiking guide on fire towers, said those can be romantic getaways, but so can trails such as Bearwallow Mountain south of Asheville, with a bald summit for great sweeping views and a place to spread out a picnic.

"We've gone up on the parkway to have dinner and pick a west-facing overlook all bundled up in hats and scarves," Allison Barr said of their romantic outings. "We've gone bike riding in Bent Creek and had dinner in downtown Asheville after that.

"Being out in a national park or in the woods is the only time your phone doesn't work, or you're not distracted by a phone, so you can really pay attention to each other," she said.

Following are more ideas to enjoy the natural wonders of the nearby mountains with someone close to your heart.

Hiking with your honey...

Read More Here

Want more reasons to fall in love with Asheville and WNC? Check out these great photos!

Pisgah Sunrise -- Blue Ridge Parkway, NC by Light of the Wild, via Flickr

30 Photos That Will Make You Fall In Love With Asheville

 

 

 

Real Estate Rebound in Asheville, N.C.

From: www.wsj.com

By: Cecilie Rohwedder

Attracted to the climate and culture of Asheville, N.C.? Be prepared to pay a premium for real estate. For houses priced above $500,000, 2013 was the strongest year since 2007.

Slideshow

The outdoor market outside at the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. Mike Belleme for The Wall Street Journal

Families are drawn to Asheville, N.C., for its small-town feel, good schools and great outdoors. Young hipsters come for the eclectic vibe, craft breweries and lively music scene. And older Americans like the gentle seasons, health-care facilities and educational opportunities, such as the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of North Carolina Asheville, which offers courses and activities for seniors.

But the great life comes at a price. For houses priced above $500,000, 2013 was the strongest year since 2007, said Don Davies, owner of a real-estate agency that bears his name and includes Realsearch, a service that tracks real-estate trends in Asheville and surrounding Buncombe County. In the first four months of this year, the average asking price rose to $459,500, from $409,400 in the year-ago period.

"We're approaching the record asking prices of 2008," said Mr. Davies. At the same time, he noted, the number of homes sold from January through April dropped by 6% from the same period last year, mostly because of thin inventory and buyers' difficulties in securing a down payment or mortgage.

Earlier this month, Hadley Cropp, an agent with Asheville Realty Group, represented buyers from Chicago who bought a home on Reynolds Mountain in trendy North Asheville, at the asking price of $860,000. The four-bedroom, three-bathroom property sold within two weeks of its listing. "The market has totally shifted," said Ms. Cropp. "It's a seller's market."

Boosting Asheville's appeal are its distinctly different neighborhoods. Young, progressive residents flock to the burgeoning River Arts District, with its vibrant arts scene. The cool crowd also likes West Asheville, a funky area across the French Broad River that has tattoo parlors, bike shops and creative eateries.

" This is like a resort, but there is enough infrastructure to get done what you need to get done. " --Home buyer John McNabb

Older, more established home buyers prefer the pricier community of Biltmore Forest near the Biltmore Estate, Asheville's biggest tourist attraction, and the Ramble, a newer, gated community nearby that is attracting young families. Demand for luxury homes above $1 million is coming back with strength, said Ann Skoglund, an agent with Beverly-Hanks & Associates. Her most expensive listing is a $10.75 million house modeled on a French château in Biltmore Forest, but most homes in the leafy suburb cost between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Houstonians John and Darlene McNabb bought a 9,000-square-foot Tudor-style house last year in Biltmore Forest, a community located a few minutes from Asheville and near a private country club that was started in 1922 by the Vanderbilt family.

The McNabbs paid $2.8 million for their four-bedroom home on 2.4 acres overlooking a golf course. While still Texas residents, they now spend several months a year exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, along with the food and art scene in Asheville.

"This is like a resort, but there is enough infrastructure to get done what you need to get done," said Mr. McNabb, vice chairman of investment banking for Duff & Phelps Corp. in Houston and chairman of Willbros Group Inc., WG -1.87% a Houston-based company specializing in energy infrastructure.

Recently, Asheville's downtown Art Deco district was filled with evening strollers, to a backdrop of street music and noise spilling out of restaurants, many of them with a farm-to-table approach. At one, a modern tapas place called Curate, every seat at the bar was taken. In the summer, there are free downtown concerts, along with art gallery walks and annual events such as an arts and crafts show and a beer festival. Beer is a big part of Asheville's ascent. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Colorado-based Oskar Blues have expanded into the area, and craft brewer New Belgium is building a new brewery in Asheville.

"It will bring in jobs, it will bring in tourists and it will bring in money," said Mike Miller, co-owner of Town and Mountain Realty. At the same time, he is concerned that Asheville will be "loved to death," as he said, with new arrivals driving up property prices and causing future home buyers to look elsewhere. Mr. Miller said that in the past most buyers came from the New York area and Florida, but he is now getting calls from across the country, as well as Canada and Japan. He also noted a growing interest in new and green construction.

Terri King, president of Coldwell Banker King in Asheville, said she is seeing increasing demand for downtown luxury condominiums, especially from older residents who retired to large houses outside Asheville who then downsized to more manageable homes within walking distance of local attractions. Properties currently under contract include two contemporary condos atop the Hotel Indigo, IHG.LN -0.55% a high-rise with sweeping mountain views. One, a three-bedroom, was listed for $918,900, while the other, a two-bedroom, was listed for $810,900.

"The challenge of being a destination market is that the cost of living is higher than in, say, Knoxville, [Tenn.]," said Ms. King. "When people come to Asheville, they typically get sticker shock."

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10 tips for homebuyers and sellers in 2014

 

Find your dream home with Town and Mountain Realty!

Find your dream home with Town and Mountain Realty!

By Steve McLinden

Goodness, is it 2006 again? At the dawn of 2014, it feels like it.

Homeowners enjoyed double-digit price growth in the first half of 2013, greatly exceeding experts' predictions of a year ago and even settling into pre-recession values in many markets. Though there was some softening in the second half, sellers remain in their element and are turning the screws on anxious buyers who fear further price spikes and escalating interest rates. New-construction home sales are up, previously underwater properties are in positive equity again and investors are turning their attention to "secondary markets" to find value. Economists expect house prices to rise another 4 percent to 5 percent in 2014, meaning remaining bargains will get even more sparse.

With that in mind, here are 10 tips befitting the up-market of 2014.

 

Sellers: Jump-start the process.

You may be an avowed procrastinator, but if you want to sell a house this year, start planning now. The process, say sellers, always takes longer than expected. So get your home inspected now; there may be unseen major repairs to address. Declutter, clean closets and shelves, store extraneous possessions and furnishings and other stuff that might keep sellers from picturing themselves in your space. Attend an open house or two to get an idea of how to stage yours. And move along: Owners still waiting for the market to peak should beware that this real estate cycle may be shorter-lived than last.

Buyers: Be credit-ready.

There's a lot of competition out there for homes, so tarry not. Get your credit report and start repairing any blips. If your scores are below 620 or so, a conventional loan will be a challenge. But if they're under 740, you still might not get the best rates. Many buyers get a prequalification letter from the lender, but you can one-up them with a preapproval, which comes after a more thorough evaluation of your finances. A preapproval letter shows the seller that you're good to go and can close quickly.

Sellers: Vet your real estate agent, then follow the agent's advice.

Sellers lose time and money by hiring poorly. Interview several potential agents. You'll want a full-timer who is Web savvy and uses mobile technology, because at least 4 in 5 buyers view their homes first online. Your agent should be a proven performer in your submarket and be willing to walk you through the financial aspects of your deal. The more the agent knows about schools, commutes and other local details, the better. Once vetted, accept your agent's advice on pricing, marketing and negotiation.

Buyers: Adjust your negotiating expectations.

Lowball offers are off the table in this environment and could eliminate you from consideration. Respond to counteroffers quickly to keep other buyers from entering the picture; you don't want to encourage a bidding war. If one breaks out, be prepared to get fewer concessions and pay more money. And have a few other homes in mind so you can be willing to walk away if the price soars.

Sellers: It's your market (finally) so make the most of it.

At long last, it's a seller's market! While you're interviewing agents, be wary of those offering too-good-to-be-true price opinions because they may be trying to "buy" your listing. And don't jump at that first (seemingly) generous offer, especially if sellers are getting multiple offers. If you're getting your price and then some, give something back to the buyer in good faith, such as an early move-in date or some personal property you're not attached to. Never let the buyers' agents know what you're willing to do, though. Make them ask.

Buyers: Find life after foreclosure.

Have a foreclosure in recent years? Join the crowd. Though you might think you have to wait seven years to get another conventional mortgage, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA say they actually require just a three-year waiting period if the foreclosure was caused by extenuating circumstances. There are plenty of nonconforming lenders -- often called "shadow bankers" -- out there if you can endure a big down payment (around 20 percent) and above-market interest rates. Or consider a lease-purchase or lease-option where you pay the homeowner a monthly premium above your rent for the right to buy at a set price later.

Sellers: Hesitate to renovate.

We hear that newly renovated homes are easier sells, and that's true. So is it time to remodel that outmoded kitchen? Not if you plan to sell soon. According to remodeling surveys, the average renovation project returns only about two-thirds on investment. For example, a major bathroom remodel costing $15,000 yields about $10,000 in resale value. The same goes for a major kitchen remodel. In most cases, it would be cheaper to issue credits to buyers or drop your price a few grand. Lighter jobs like new doors are more practical and return about 85 percent. But feel free to spend a bit on paint (basic colors), curb appeal and fence replacement to enhance exteriors.

Buyers: Ask and you won't receive (an unpleasant surprise).

You'd be dismayed at the things sellers aren't obliged to disclose in most states, including on-premises felonies, suicide, murder or a neighboring sex offender. Don't be afraid to thoroughly question the selling party in writing before signing the contract. Some questions: Is there a cell tower, water tower, natural gas well, oil well or other non-residential construction scheduled to be built in this neighborhood (then define "neighborhood")? Is there commercial zoning on nearby vacant land? Is the yard prone to flooding? Are train whistles or other regular loud noises audible there? Did known criminal activity occur in the house? Have there been reported hauntings? Are there loud neighbors, dogs or other noise pollution? Are there registered sex offenders or other known criminals living nearby? If the selling party refuses to answer any of these questions, that's a bright red flag.

Sellers: Tailor your local game.

Folks who base their selling decisions on trends on cable news are often left wondering, "Why can't I sell at this price?" The truth is, all markets are different and all real estate is local, and prices can vary greatly even in adjacent subdivisions. Home prices are dictated largely by demand, land availability, foreclosures and employment. Most local real estate offices will provide market stats and at least a few recent comp sales in hopes of earning your business. Additional trend data can be found online or in local newspapers and business journals. A polite call or email to a local real estate appraiser might net more info or links to local statistics.

Sellers and buyers: Heed changing trends.

Pay attention to trends and react accordingly. Thinking of laying carpet? Agent surveys in the past few years show homes with hardwood floors or faux wood laminate floors are far faster sells. You still want to be in suburbia? Millennials don't. Numerous cities -- such as Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Minneapolis -- have watched this more environmentally conscious generation flock to "mixed-use" urban districts served by trendy cafes, nightclubs, bike paths, civic events and mass transit. For now, they're not buying condos, which haven't recovered like the single-family market. They're renting -- but watching the condo market ever so carefully.

 

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Making the Most of Small Space in Up-cylced and Green Homes

By applying smart concepts and green technology, you can have a compelling, fulfilling life that allows you to live within your means financially and environmentally.

Here are some amazing & green home design innovations from all over the world!

 

Photo: Evelyn Muller

Photo: Evelyn Muller

Although interior design events in Latin America are always full of huge museum rooms thought for impossible houses, it's good to see the trend of small spaces popping up in places like Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.

This 600 sq. foot recycled cabin by Brazilian designer Fabio Galeazzo presented at the last edition of Casa Cor Sao Paulo is another one of such spaces, and presents some very cool features.

Photo: Evelyn Muller

Photo: Evelyn Muller

Asked to make use of an old cabin that was already at the city's Jockey Club --venue of the event--, Galeazzo decided to retrofit the place adding a new, visible bamboo structure both inside and outside the place (photo above).

He then sought to create a space that had the simplicity of traditional cabins with some of the comforts of modern living. Named 'Urban cabin', the space has only 600 sq. foot, but thanks to a clever blending of outdoor and indoor space, it looks bigger.

Photo: Marco Antonio

Photo: Marco Antonio

 

One of the most interesting elements of the place is the prototype of a revolving kitchen that allows the user to cook and attend guests both in the dinning room table or in the outdoor patio.

Although the piece of furniture is only a prototype, looks pretty big, and is not entirely functional, it's an interesting turn on the subject of re-thinking the kitchen.

Photo: Courtesy of Fabio Galeazzo

Photo: Courtesy of Fabio Galeazzo

Photo: Marco Antonio

Photo: Marco Antonio

Even though the designer didn't necessarily got rid of the bed, he blended it in using Dedon's nestrest (first picture).

Usually advertised more like a chilling area for luxurious outdoor spaces, this piece makes sense here not disrupting the living room with a bed room or a bed. Frankly, also making the space look a lot more fun and cool.

Photo: Evelyn Muller

Photo: Evelyn Muller

The space makes use of responsible materials such as wood from sustainably managed forests and furniture from designers such as the Campana Brothers.

 

Photo: Marco Antonio

Photo: Marco Antonio

Although the chances of living in a cabin in the city are pretty narrow, the space has some neat ideas to pick from.

From: www.treehugger.com

By: Paula Alvarado

Read More Here

 

Unfolding Apartment

Paying $1 million for a studio may seem high, even by Manhattan standards, but this 420-square-foot space collapses, folds, and rolls to transform into a master bedroom, home theater, dining room for 12 and even a guest room.

Fold-down Beds

Designed by LifeEdited founder Graham Hill, the apartment was created to show how much functionality could be added to a small apartment. With the success of this apartment, Hill is bringing the concept to new apartment complexes in both Brooklyn and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The founder of Treehugger.com, Hill believes, "One of the easiest ways to go green is really just to go smaller" -- and that's exactly what this apartment does.

The main room contains a thick rolling wall -- like those commonly found in large libraries -- that sits on a track. The wall is made up of cabinets, drawers and a standing desk. Roll the wall out, and it reveals two bunk beds hidden behind it, along with storage closets and a desk for guests. There's a Murphy bed in the main space and the kitchen counter hides a small table,which can be pulled out and expanded to accommodate up to twelve people.

From: money.cnn.com

By: Matt Stuart

Check out the Video Here

 

 

 

 

 

Buying A Home Is Now 38% Cheaper Than Renting

Rent vs Buy

From: www.forbes.com

Is renting or buying a better financial bet? Every six months, Trulia's chief economist Jed Kolko runs the numbers to answer that question and help you stay on top of the trends. So what does Trulia's Winter 2014 Rent vs. Buy Report tell us? Although the gap between renting and buying is narrowing across the U.S., homeownership is still 38% cheaper than renting.

 

Homeownership remains cheaper than renting nationally and in all of the 100 largest metro areas according to Trulia TRLA -1.78%'s latest Winter Rent vs. Buy report. Rising mortgage rates and home prices have narrowed the gap over the past year, though rates have recently dropped and price gains are slowing. Now, at a 30-year fixed rate of 4.5%, buying is 38% cheaper than renting nationally, versus being 44% cheaper one year ago.

 

The rent versus buy math is different in each local market. Buying ranges from being just 5% cheaper than renting in Honolulu to being 66% cheaper than renting in Detroit. But even for a specific market, the cost of buying versus renting depends on how much home prices rise (or fall) after you buy.

Read More Here

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