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Rent vs. Buy Analysis Cambridge MA

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with ProSource Media

The real estate market in Cambridge has seen explosive growth over the past decade.  Thanks to steady flow of VC funding pouring into the area and increasing enrollment at local Universities, demand for housing in Cambridge has been insatiable.  As a result, median sales prices for residential properties in Cambridge are soaring across all categories.  The median sales price for condos in Cambridge is $891,910, while the median price of homes for sale in Cambridge MA stands at a whopping $1.93M.  

With prices like that, it would be easy for a potential buyer to throw in the towel and assume that renting an apartment is their best bet.  And going strictly off those two aforementioned median prices, they would be right.  When you break them down in terms of monthly mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, and HOA/maintenance fees, the math clearly points to apartments in Cambridge being the cheaper alternative.  A renter would be saving on average $714/month compared to purchasing a condo, and $3,999/month vs. buying a home.  

Property Type

Cambridge Median Sales Price

Mortgage + Tax + HOI + Maint.*

Average Rent Price

Rent vs. Buy

Cambridge Condos

$891,910

$3,475

$2,761

$714

Cambridge SF Home

$1,934,351

$6,760

$2,761

$3,999

A deeper dive into the MLS data will paint a different picture, however.  The median sales prices aren’t as astronomical for smaller housing units in Cambridge as they are larger units.  The median sales price for a studio condo in Cambridge is $400K over the past year.  That’s even lower than the median price for studio properties in Boston ($425K).  Similarly the median sales price for 1 bedroom properties in Cambridge is $601K, which is close to Boston’s median of $585K.

Size of Unit

Cambridge

Median Sales Price

Mortgage + Tax + HOI + Maint.*

Average Rent Price

Rent vs. Buy

Studio

$400,000

$1,484

$1,957

$473

1 Bedroom

$601,514

$2,177

$2,200

$23

2 Bedroom

$822,444

$2,936

$2,697

-$239

3 Bedroom

$1,240,978

$4,376

$3,385

-$991

4 Bedroom

$1,800,416

$6,299

$4,185

-$2,114

5 Bedroom

$2,375,646

$8,278

$5,723

-$2,555

So it would appear that the decision to renting an apartment or buy a home in Cambridge is not so cut and dry for studio apartments and 1 bedrooms.  In fact, buying a studio property could actually save you a considerable amount of money in Cambridge. 

* Monthly Mortgage, Tax, HOI, and Maintenance cost was estimated by taking the monthly mortgage derived from the median sales price at a 3% rate at a 30 year loan with 30% down payment, then adding in the monthly property tax cost of the median sales price at the Cambridge property tax rate and the average home owner's insurance cost for Cambridge residents.  All MLS data and apartment data was provided by Boston Pads.