In San Francisco, 3 big factors are impacting the Rent vs. Buy equation: the 15-25% decline in prices since 2008, fast rising rents, and incredibly low mortgage rates. This chart compares the median SF asking rent for a 1-BR apartment ($2650) to buying a median-priced, 2-BR condo in SoMa ($650,000). With 20% down, adjusting for principal pay-down and tax deductions, the net monthly cost is actually lower for the buyer. And the financials get better over time.
To perform calculations using your own assumptions regarding interest rates, rent, down-payment, appreciation, purchase price and costs, go to www.paragon-re.com/Calculators/RentvsBuy.aspx. For the complete analysis, click on View Report.