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561-319-2233, jhellegaard@fau.edu


FAU Buy vs. Rent Index Shows Rising Prices and Mortgage Rates Moving Housing Markets in the Direction of Renting


BOCA RATON, Fla. (June 7, 2017) – Slowing rents coupled with rising home prices and mortgage rates are pushing many housing markets in the U.S. into rent territory, according to the latest national index produced by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University faculty.

“The major drivers for this quarter’s scores appear to be slowing rents relative to the costs of ownership and climbing mortgage rates,” said Ken Johnson, Ph.D., a real estate economist and one of the index’s creators in FAU’s College of Business. “Thus, on the margin, more potential owners should favor renting and reinvesting in a portfolio of stocks and bonds as opposed to ownership. This shift should slightly lower the demand for ownership and contribute to the slowdown in housing prices around the country.”

Based on numbers from the end of the first quarter of 2017, the latest Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index follows recent S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index scores, which find an average annual increase in home prices of 5.78 percent, suggesting that prices, while increasing, are slowing.

“Higher BH&J scores favor renting over ownership in terms of wealth accumulation,” said Eli Beracha, Ph.D., co-creator of the index and assistant professor in the T&S Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU. “All of this upward pressure in the tradeoff between renting and buying should serve, in general, to slow property price appreciation around most of the country.”

Both BH&J and Case-Shiller employ housing price appreciation from markets around the country. However, unlike Case-Shiller, the BH&J Index adds additional sources such as rents, mortgage rates and alternative investment data streams, among others variables, to indicate when and why housing markets might be slowing or changing direction.

The latest BH&J scores show 11 of 23 cities in the index remain in buy territory. Another nine cities hover around a BH&J score of zero, suggesting a tossup between buying and renting in terms of wealth accumulation.

“While the shift is marginally toward renting, many metro markets, including Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland, among others, remain soundly in favor of ownership. Prices in these markets should continue to rise without worry of overheating,” said Beracha.

The remaining three metro areas (Dallas, Denver and Houston) are in heretofore unseen territory in terms of both pricing and BH&J scores.              

“Interestingly, housing price appreciation continues to increase at a double-digit pace in both Dallas and Denver in the face of increasing BH&J scores,” Johnson said. “However, in Houston, annual property price increases have slowed to 4.4 percent, seemingly in response to conditions that favor renting and reinvesting over buying. Actually, a very slight decrease in Houston housing prices has occurred in the last three months. We could be at an inflection point in these markets. Time will tell.”         

The BH&J Index and other FAU real estate activities are sponsored by Investments Limited of Boca Raton. The BH&J Index is published quarterly and is available online at http://business.fau.edu/buyvsrent. Due to data availability and the time necessary to calculate the most current index values, the index is produced two months after the end of the quarter.

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About Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.



To the knowledge of the co-developers (Beracha, Hardin and Johnson) of the BH&J Index, there is no perfect information source that guarantees optimal results when choosing between buying and renting. Accordingly, the BH&J Index, and any sponsoring university or universities, DO NOT make any such claim. Thus, viewers/consumers of this information use it at their own risk and agree to hold Eli Beracha, William G. Hardin III, Ken H. Johnson, and any sponsoring universities, harmless.


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