Trulia and CNNMoney are calling Atlanta a "Buy" before "Rent" market. This is based upon a review of data from their sources as well as Zillow. Trulia and CNNMoney are not the only publications endorsing this, Forbes, the WSJ and USA Today have come to same conclusion about Atlanta.
Trulia concluded that owning a home in Atlanta is 57% cheaper than renting:
In the other 96 of the 100 largest metros, though, buying is still cheaper than renting. In Atlanta, for instance, where buying is 57% cheaper than renting in the best of circumstances (3.5% mortgage, itemizing, and staying 7 years), buying remains 40% cheaper even with a 4.5% mortgage, not itemizing, and staying only 5 years. In fact, today’s low mortgage rates make it financially better to buy even if you only stay put for 3 years in many metros. But buying a home also involves a lot of time, emotional energy and financial risk, so we can’t really recommend buying a home that you plan to live in for just 3 years even if the financial calculation is in favor of buying. Money isn’t everything.
As CNNMoney observed:
Foreclosures have plagued the Atlanta area recently. The metro area saw increases in foreclosure activity during each of the first half of this year. Part of the increase is due to the national mortgage settlement which set new rules that banks should use to pursue foreclosures. The settlement, which was reached as a result of the robo-signing scandal, has opened the way for banks to clear their backlogs of foreclosures more quickly.Median home price:$176,200 Median rent : $1,950 Breakeven time: 5.9 years
Now the market is flooded with short sales and bank-owned properties, depressing prices -- and creating bargains. The median home price in Atlanta has fallen to well below $180,000, which, combined with low mortgage rates, has made buying a great deal in most area communities. But, as in most cities, it all depends on where you buy. In a depressed town like Jonesboro, where incomes is about 50% lower than the state average, you could breakeven in just over a year. But if you opt to purchase in the pricier Druid Hills area, it could take closer to seven and a half years.
There is of course, a huge "however"...and that is location and activity of the specific micro market. As alluded to above, different areas will have different results. As we just posted, investors are pushing up home prices in Atlanta, and not just in the city. That will alter the balance as well so there are variables to consider.
An outstanding "rent vs buy" interactive chart is provided by the NYTimes and can be seen here. This is an outstanding tool to provide a look at the math.