Real Estate Data for the Rest of Us

Pads for Grads: Where the Newly Educated Can Afford Rent

Of the largest 25 largest rental markets, less than 19% of all rental listings on the market are affordable for recent college graduates. The most affordable places to live for recent grads include St. Louis, Dallas, and Houston, while the least affordable are Portland, Riverside, and Orange County.

School is (nearly) out for the summer. That means millions of newly-minted college graduates will strike out on their own to find a job and place to live. Here at Trulia, we’re experts in the latter, so we’ve set out to help new grads find areas where they can afford to rent and still have some money left over to pay back their student loans.

We measure graduate affordability as the share of rental homes on Trulia, as of May 7, 2015, that are within reach of an employed, college graduate between the ages of 22 and 25. Our standard is whether the total monthly payment, including rental payment and insurance, is less than 31% of the metro area’s median income for recent grads. We calculate affordability based on the local median graduate income and rents for the 25 largest rental markets in the US. Thus, what we consider affordable for a graduate varies from market to market.

For instance, in metro Atlanta, the median salary for a new grad is $25,571 per year. If you’re only making this much money, then you can only rent homes that cost less than $661 per month based on the 31% guideline. Sadly, this means just 8.7% of the homes for rent in Atlanta (those listed for less than $661) are within reach.

Want To Pay Less In Rent? Move Inland
Generally, the picture isn’t pretty for recent grads who want to find an affordable place on their own. Those who head to the Midwest and Southern states can save the most on rent. But even in St. Louis, which tops the list of most affordable metros for new grads, just 18.6% of rental units are affordable. And it’s all downhill from there: with the next most affordable areas having less than 15% of affordable rental units. The good news is, you would need no more than one roommate to make the median rental unit affordable in each of five least expensive metros for grads.

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Top 5 Most Affordable Rental Markets for Recent Grads
# U.S. Metro % of rental units affordable to recent college grads Max monthly rent payment for an affordable unit # of roommates needed to make median rental affordable Median # of bedrooms
1 St. Louis, MO 18.6%  $666 0.3 2
2 Dallas, TX 14.9%  $799 0.5 2
3 Houston, TX 10.4%  $746 0.7 2
4 Atlanta, GA 8.7%  $661 0.5 2
5 Phoenix, AZ 8.0%  $613 0.7 2
Note: Of 25 largest rental markets. We count any fraction of a roommate needed as a whole person for purposes of making rent affordable. For example, to not break the 31% affordability criteria, a recent grad in St. Louis, MO would need at least 1 roommate to make the median rent affordable. Income estimates are inflation-adjusted to 2015 dollars and originate from the 2013 American Community Survey for college educated graduates between the ages of 22 and 25. Download the full dataset for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets here.

Go West Young Grad? Only If You Can Pay More
If you plan to head to the West Coast after graduation, then you might want to take a crash course in sticker shock.  Less than 1% of all rental units in the bottom five are affordable, and almost all are in expensive California markets. Portland, OR ranks the least affordable with 0.1% of units affordable, followed by Riverside-San Bernardino, CA (0.2%) Orange County, CA (0.2%), Miami, FL (0.4%) and, San Diego, CA (0.4%).

So what’s a grad to do? Although it’s an exciting prospect to get a place of your own right out of college, the cost of doing so may be large. For those not wanting to live with Mom and Dad, there are two options: spend time searching for the few affordable units that are out there (Trulia can help out with that!), or find roommates.

To help with the latter, we’ve crunched the numbers to find out how many roommates a recent grad would need to afford rent, and whether that means sharing a bedroom. In the five least affordable rental markets, a recent grad would need at least two roommates to make the median rental unit affordable, and in Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, that number jumps to three. In all of the five least affordable markets except Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, this means that two individuals would need to share a room, just like during freshman year!

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Top 5 Least Affordable Rental Markets for Recent Grads
# U.S. Metro % of rental units affordable to recent college grads Max monthly rent payment for an affordable unit # of roommates needed to make median rental affordable Median # of bedrooms
1 Portland, OR 0.1%  $479 1.5 2
2 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA 0.2%  $426 2.3 3
3 Orange County, CA 0.2%  $666 1.9 2
4 Miami, FL 0.4%  $666 2.3 2
5 San Diego, CA 0.4%  $666 1.6 2
Note: Of 25 largest rental markets. We count any fraction of a roommate needed as a whole person for purposes of making rent affordable. For example, to not break the 31% affordability criteria, a recent grad in Portland, OR would need at least 2 roommates to make the median rent affordable. Income estimates are inflation-adjusted to 2015 dollars and originate from the 2013 American Community Survey for college educated graduates between the ages of 22 and 25. Download the full dataset for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets here.

SF-DC-NY: How Much Do You Really Need To Earn To Rent?
Want to live like a young professional and not like a fresh-faced graduate? You might want to think twice about moving to a high-wage metro. For recent college graduates looking to live comfortably, moving to a metro where the young and educated earn the most might be a tempting offer. After all, in San Francisco, Washington, DC, and New York, the starting salaries for recent graduates aren’t too far off from salaries of more experienced workers in other metros. These areas also have high rates of employment. So why not pack up and move to The City by the Bay, The District, or The Big Apple? Two words: high rents.

Many of the metros that pay the highest salaries also come with hefty rental price tags. Here’s a look at how grad salaries stack up to the salaries needed to afford median rents. So take notice recent grads, bigger isn’t always better – ‘cause that big salary may not seem so big after you start writing out that monthly rent check.

Trulia_Grad_BarChart

Where Grads Need To Earn The Most To Afford Median Rents
# U.S. Metro Median Income for recent college grads Income Needed to Afford Median Rent Median Rent, May 2015
1 San Francisco, CA $41,244 $137,272 $3,500
2 New York, NY $32,995 $121,584 $3,100
3 Boston, MA $31,552 $98,052 $2,500
4 Miami, FL $25,778 $86,285 $2,200
5 Los Angeles, CA $25,778 $85,697 $2,185
6 Cambridge, MA $31,552 $82,363 $2,100
7 Washington, DC $37,120 $77,461 $1,975
8 Oakland, CA $27,841 $76,971 $1,963
9 Orange County, CA $25,778 $74,794 $1,907
10 Chicago, IL $25,778 $69,421 $1,770
Download the full dataset for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets here.

The Cliff’s Notes Of Rental Affordability
The lesson here for recent grads is that although it may be tempting to seek out metros with the highest wages, doing so may not necessarily lead to a better quality of life because these metros also have high rents.

Recent grads need to balance both wages and rents, so places like St. Louis, Dallas, and Houston, fit the bill for affordability. Although the percent of units in these areas that are affordable is under 19%, finding just one roommate is enough to make the median priced rental unit affordable. However, in places like Portland and Southern California, not only are affordable units few and far between, but it takes living in dorm-like quarters to make the median priced rental unit affordable.

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Where HOA Fees Make Renting Cheaper Than Buying a Home Visualization Preview

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Where HOA Fees Make Renting Cheaper Than Buying a Home

Nationally, buying with a traditional 20% down payment and 30-year mortgage is 35% cheaper than renting. But homeowner association (HOA) fees can make the decision more difficult in metro New York and Honolulu.

Homeownership remains cheaper than renting in all 100 largest U.S. metro areas. In fact, buying is 35% cheaper than renting now, compared with 33% cheaper one year ago. Paradoxically, home price growth nationally has outpaced rents over the past year. So what gives? Two things. First, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate has fallen from 4.5% in 2014 to 3.87% today (as of April 15). Second, the 3.9% home price gain wasn’t much larger than the 3.7% gain in rents. In the past year, these two trends have made homeownership even more affordable compared with renting.

Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy Report assumes a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage with a 20% down payment. But for those looking to buy a home, apartment, or condo with homeowner association (HOA) fees, the extra cost could make renting a more attractive option.

Our method for calculating the total costs of buying and renting follows these steps:

  • We use our quality-adjusted measure of home prices and rents, which allows an apples-to-apples comparison between rental and owner-occupied housing units. For this report, we looked at all the homes listed on Trulia for rent or sale in March 2015.
  • We calculate the initial total monthly costs of owning and renting, including mortgage payments, maintenance, insurance, and taxes. We make a separate calculation that factors HOA fees into the rent vs. buy equation.
  • We calculate the future total monthly costs of owning and renting, taking into account expected price and rent appreciation, as well as projected inflation.
  • We factor in one-time costs and proceeds, including closing costs, down payment, sale proceeds, and security deposits.
  • We calculate net present value, which tells us the opportunity cost of using money to buy a house instead of investing it. Net present value is the worth in today’s dollars of a future stream of payments and proceeds, taking into account expected interest rates.

To compare the costs of owning and renting, we assume buyers get a 3.87% mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan with 20% down; itemize their federal tax deductions and are in the 25% tax bracket; and will stay in their home for seven years. Under these assumptions, buying is 35% cheaper than renting nationwide, considering all costs and proceeds from buying or renting over the seven-year period. You can read our methodology here.

The interactive Rent vs. Buy map shows how the math changes under alternative assumptions for mortgage rates, income tax brackets, number of years in the home, and HOA fees, if any. To estimate HOA costs, we combed through Trulia’s for-sale listings and calculated the median homeowner’s fee for each of the 100 largest metro areas.

Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy Calculator lets you compare renting and buying costs using whatever assumptions about prices, rents, and other factors you want, including HOA fees. It uses the same math that powers our interactive map and this report.

Tougher Call between Renting and Buying in Honolulu and California
While homeownership is 35% cheaper than renting nationwide, the gap differs vastly across metros, largely because each market has its own typical prices and rents, as well as distinct patterns in property taxes and home-price appreciation. Taking all these factors into account, buying a home ranges from being 16% cheaper than renting in Honolulu to being 55% cheaper in Sarasota, FL.

Generally, it’s a closer call in California and an easier call in the South. What’s more, in seven of the 10 housing markets where buying has the smallest edge over renting, the buying advantage actually increased in the past year. On the other end of the spectrum, the buying advantage widened in six of the 10 markets where buying has the biggest edge. 

RentvsBuy_Map

Where Buying a Home is a Tougher Call

# U.S. Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Spring 2015 Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Spring 2014 Difference (% points), 2015 vs. 2014
1 Honolulu, HI -16% -10% -7%
2 San Jose, CA -17% -11% -6%
3 Lancaster, PA -19% -16% -3%
4 Sacramento, CA -22% -22% 0%
5 San Francisco, CA -24% -17% -7%
6 Ventura, CA -25% -25% 0%
7 Los Angeles, CA -26% -24% -2%
8 Madison, WI -26% -24% -2%
9 Seattle, WA -26% -23% -3%
10 Modesto, CA -27% -32% 5%

 

Where Buying a Home is an Easier Choice

# Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Spring 2015 Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Spring 2014 Difference (% points), 2015 vs. 2014
1 Sarasota, FL -55% -56% 1%
2 Fort Myers, FL -54% -52% -2%
3 Baton Rouge, LA -53% -50% -3%
4 New Orleans, LA -52% -53% 1%
5 Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL -50% -52% 2%
6 Columbia, SC -50% -46% -4%
7 Chattanooga, TN -50% -45% -5%
8 Oklahoma City, OK -50% -46% -3%
9 Charleston, SC -49% -45% -4%
10 Tampa, FL -49% -49% 0%
Note: Negative numbers mean that buying costs less than renting. For example, buying a home in New Orleans is 52% cheaper than renting in 2015. Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy calculation assumes a 3.87% 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment, itemizing tax deductions at the 25% bracket, and staying seven years in the home. Year-over-year differences are rounded to the nearest percentage point, and the difference was calculated before rounding; therefore, the rounded difference might not equal the difference between the rounded shares.  Click here to download the full Rent vs. Buy cost considerations for the 100 largest U.S. metros.

HOA Fees Can Make a Big Difference in the Rent vs. Buy Decision
If you are a homeowner association member, you need to factor in your HOA fee into your monthly housing costs. What these fees cover varies, but they can include everything from landscaping and maintaining public spaces to utilities and cable TV. The fee amounts also vary and, in some areas, you might have to pay a lot.

The New York and Honolulu metropolitan areas top the list of markets with the most expensive HOA fees, with medians of $575 and $438 per month respectively. Fort Myers, FL, Riverside, CA, and Miami, FL round out the top five with median HOA fees between $310 and $356. In these high-fee markets, HOA costs can make a significant difference in whether it’s better to rent or buy. 

RentvsBuy_HOAfees_Chart

To understand how much difference these costs make, we’ve factored in the median HOA fee for each of the 100 largest metros in our rent vs. buy analysis. If you want to know how much a homeowner fee on a specific property will affect your housing costs, Trulia’s rent vs. buy calculator allows you to plug in the fee amount in the advanced settings.

When we factor in the median HOA fee, the buying advantage almost disappears in some markets. In the New York metro area, buying a home becomes just 4% cheaper than renting, compared with 27% cheaper without the fee. And in the Honolulu metro, renting actually enjoys a 1% advantage when HOA fees are considered.

 

Without those fees, buying is 16% cheaper than renting. In some other markets, even though it’s still cheaper to buy a home with HOA fees than to rent, the swing can be large. For example, Melbourne, FL’s median HOA fee of $266 per month on a median-price house makes buying there 23% cheaper than renting, a swing of 22 percentage points from 45% cheaper without the fee. Other metros with similar swings include Youngstown, OH (48% vs. 28%), Fort Myers, FL (54% vs. 34%), and Riverside, CA (34% vs. 16%).

RentvsBuy_Hawaii

Where HOA Fees Matter Most in Rent vs. Buy Math

# U.S. Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting with HOA Fee (%), Spring 2015 Rent Vs. Buy Difference with and without HOA Fees (% points) Median Monthly HOA Fee ($)
1 Honolulu, HI 1% 17% $438
2 New York, NY -4% 24% $575
3 San Jose, CA -8% 9% $290
4 Lancaster, PA -13% 6% $67
5 Portland, OR -14% 13% $220
6 Los Angeles, CA -15% 11% $285
7 San Francisco, CA -15% 9% $300
8 Madison, WI -15% 10% $152
9 San Diego, CA -15% 12% $296
10 Ventura, CA -16% 9% $230

By contrast, metros like Baton Rouge, LA and Oklahoma City, OK—where the median HOA fee will set you back only $30 and $22 per month respectively—are a bargain compared with New York and Honolulu. Furthermore, HOA fees in those areas are relatively cheap relative to median house prices, so they hardly affect the renting vs. buying calculation. In places where buying is the best deal even with HOA fees, the added monthly costs reduce the buying advantage by just 1-2 percentage points.

Where HOA Fees Are a Drop in the Bucket

# U.S. Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting with Median HOA Fee (%), Spring 2015 Rent Vs. Buy Difference with and without HOA Fees (% points) Median Monthly HOA Fee ($)
1 Baton Rouge, LA -51% 2% $30
2 Sarasota, FL -51% 5% $92
3 New Orleans, LA -48% 4% $63
4 Oklahoma City, OK -48% 2% $22
5 Columbia, SC -47% 3% $33
6 Jackson, MS -47% 2% $27
7 Charleston, SC -46% 3% $43
8 Houston, TX -46% 3% $44
9 Greenville, SC -46% 3% $38
10 Memphis, TN -46% 2% $25

To see how much HOA fees add to your monthly mortgage costs, we’ve compared the median monthly mortgage payment with the median fee in the five lowest and highest HOA markets. In markets with the highest HOA fees, the effect is substantial. In Honolulu, the extra hit is 19% and, in Fort Myers, FL, a whopping 50%. But, in markets with the lowest HOA fees, the change is slight. HOA fees add just 2% to your monthly mortgage payment in Sacramento, CA, and just 5% in Little Rock, AR, Indianapolis, IN, and Oklahoma City, OK.

RentvsBuy_HOAMonthlyPayment_Chart

Furthermore, it’s not hard to come up with plausible scenarios in which HOA fees help make buying cost more than renting. Suppose a homebuyer wants to buy a condo with HOA fees. If this buyer is not itemizing tax deductions, only stays put for five years, and qualifies only for a 4.5% mortgage rate, then buying ends up costing more than renting in 29 of the 100 largest metros.

Those 29 metros include not only pricey coastal markets, but also in markets like Madison, WI, Milwaukee, WI, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. In this scenario, buying costs 28% more than renting in New York City and 41% more expensive in Honolulu. So the moral of the story is: A condo might be within reach of most first-time homebuyers, but when you take HOA fees into account, it may make renting cheaper than buying.

Still, at the end of the day, if your dream home comes with HOA fees, it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Considering that some HOA fees bundle expenses you’d have to pay anyway, such as garbage, water, sewer, and building maintenance, the HOA fee could turn out to be a good deal. So when considering a home with HOA fees, be sure to find out exactly what those fees cover and factor it in to your overall housing budget.

Note: the detailed methodology and assumptions behind our Rent Vs. Buy model are here. Additionally, for our comparison of HOA fees, we used the median HOA fee of all properties in metro listed on Trulia in 2014.

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America’s Most Paw-some Rental Markets for Pet Owners

For renters with pets, finding a place to live can be tough, but by no means impossible. Overall, San Francisco is the most pet-friendly metro, while Dallas has the highest percentage of rental listings that allow pets, and San Diego has the highest concentration of pet stores and services. Washington, DC, is the most expensive, with sky-high pet deposits, pet fees, and pet rents.

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they’re not necessarily your landlord’s. Nor are cats. If you’re a renter with a pet, one of the biggest challenges is finding a place to live. May is National Pet Month, so we’ve set out to find rental markets where your furry friend is as welcome as you are.

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San Francisco Opens Up the Golden Gate for Pet Owners
To find America’s most pet-friendly places to live among the 25 largest rental markets, we’ve looked at several factors and combined them into a single ranking:

  • Most Pet-Friendly Landlords: Since finding an apartment that allows pets is crucial, we combed through all the listings on Trulia Rentals to see which market has the percentage of rental listings that allow cats, small dogs, or large dogs.
  • Least Expensive Pet Fees: Another pain point for pet-owning renters are all the added fees that landlords charge for Fido or Whiskers. So to figure out how much extra rent you’ll need to pay, we also calculated the average pet deposit, pet fee, and pet rent in each market using the listings on Trulia Rental.
  • High Concentration of Pet Stores and Services: Lastly, we used Trulia’s neighborhood amenity map to see which rental markets have the highest concentration of pet store or services, including vets, groomers, and dog walkers.

Turns out, pets will leave their hearts in San Francisco. Of the 25 largest rental markets, the City by the Bay tops the list, thanks to plenty of rentals that allow pets, low pet fees, and plenty of pet stores and services. But San Francisco isn’t the West’s only metro that’s gone to the dogs … and cats. Seattle, Denver, Oakland, and Portland, OR, round out the list of the top five cities for pets. The next five pet-friendly metros include four in other regions. Chicago, St. Louis, New York, and Dallas consistently rank high for each of our pet-positive measures. However, on any given measure, there’s lots of variation. Below is our overall ranking of metros from most to least pet friendly, taking all measures into account. In the rest of this post, we’ll show you the rankings for each of our seven pro-pet qualities.

25 Most Pet-Friendly Rental Markets

# U.S. Metro
1 San Francisco, CA
2 Seattle, WA
3 Denver, CO
4 Oakland, CA
5 Portland, OR
6 Chicago, IL
7 St. Louis, MO
8 New York, NY
9 Dallas, TX
10 San Diego, CA
11 Phoenix, AZ
12 Philadelphia, PA
13 Cambridge, MA
14 Boston, MA
15 Newark, NJ
16 Los Angeles, CA
17 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA
18 Atlanta, GA
19 Orange County, CA
20 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
21 Miami, FL
22 Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL
23 Houston, TX
24 Washington, DC
25 Baltimore, MD
Note: 25 largest U.S. rental markets ranked from most to least pet-friendly based on # of rentals that allow pets, low pet fees, and plenty of nearby pet stores and services

Cats vs. Dogs: Landlords Friendlier to Cats
Nationally, landlords would rather hear a meow than a woof. Among the 25 largest rental markets, 20% of rentals explicitly allow cats, slightly more than the 18% that allow small dogs. Unfortunately, if you’ve got a St. Bernard or a Great Dane, you’re barking up the wrong tree: Nationwide, just 4% of rental listings say your big dog is welcome.

When we look at individual markets, Dallas comes out on top for rentals that allow cats and dogs of all sizes. Since 2013, over 60% of Trulia’s Dallas rental listings specifically allowed cats and small dogs, while 20% allowed large dogs. Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, and Portland also make the top 10 in these three categories, and they show landlords favoring cats over dogs and small dogs to large dogs.

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The “Hidden” Cost of Housing Your Pet
Finding a rental is just the first hurdle for pet owners. They may also have to fork out extra charges tacked on to the rent. These charges typically come in three forms: pet deposits, pet fees, and pet rents. What’s the difference? A pet deposit is a refundable fee paid upfront to the landlord on top of your regular rental deposit. A pet fee is similar, except it is not refundable. Pet rent is a monthly nonrefundable payment paid in addition to regular rent. The good news is that it’s very unlikely renters with pets would need to pay these fees. Less than 1% of the rental units listed on Trulia that allow pets specifically say they charge one or more of them. And, of all the rental units that impose pet fees, a whopping 78% charge only one. Just 22% charge two of these fees and less than 1% slam you with all three.

Trulia_PetFriendlyRentalMarket_PetCharges

Washington, DC: The Capital of Pricey Pet Deposits, Fees, and Rents Washington, DC, is first in war, first in peace, and first in extracting money from pet owners with a litany of extra fees. In our nation’s capital, the average pet deposit is over $350, the average pet fee is over $425, and the average pet rent is nearly $45 per month—all three of which tops each fee category. Only three other metros make the top 10 most expensive lists in each of these categories, but they aren’t nearly as expensive as Washington. Dallas has relatively high pet deposits and fees of $288 and $275 respectively, but relatively low monthly pet rents of $9; Baltimore has pet deposits and fees of $261 and $235, but relatively expensive pet rents of $35 per month; Portland, OR, is even lower in average pet deposits and fees, $247 and $184 respectively, while pet rents there average $10 per month. Meanwhile, of the 25 largest rental markets, several average close to zero because few listings include pet fees. These metros include Cambridge, MA, Newark, NJ, Boston, MA, Philadelphia, PA, and Orange County, CA.

Trulia_PetFriendlyRentalMarkets_MonthlyCosts

Does Muffy Need a Wash? Does Rover Want a Biscuit? Go West.
Like kids, our furry companions require lots of stuff. Finding a place to live that has abundant pet stores and services like vets, groomers, boarders, and dog walkers may be just as important as finding a pet-positive home.

Last year, Americans spent nearly $60 billion on pet supplies and services—everything from pet food to veterinary visits, grooming, and boarding. However, the concentration of these services varies significantly. To find the metros with the greatest density of pet-oriented businesses, we’ve tallied up every establishment tagged by Yelp in the pet category, including pet services, dog walkers, pet boarding, pet sitting, veterinarians, pet training, pet stores, pet groomers, and animal shelters.

Trulia_PetFriendlyRentalMarkets_ServicesRatio

 

Housing Markets with the Most Pet Stores and Services
# U.S. Metro Ratio of Pet Business per Household
1 San Diego, CA 1: 817
2 San Francisco, CA 1: 848
3 Seattle, WA 1: 891
4 Orange County, CA 1: 927
5 Portland, OR 1: 955
6 Oakland, CA 1: 978
7 Denver, CO 1: 997
8 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA 1: 1125
9 Los Angeles, CA 1: 1157
10 Cambridge, MA 1: 1170
Data Source: Yelp; Among the 25 largest rental markets

Once again, the West is top dog. Nine of the top 10 metros with the highest concentrations of pet businesses are either in Washington State, Oregon, California, or Arizona. San Diego tops the list with one pet business for every 817 households. San Francisco, Seattle, Orange County, CA, and Portland, OR round out the top five. The only metro outside the West that makes the list is the college town where Harvard and MIT are located, Cambridge, MA, which ranks tenth.

To sum it up, Dallas, TX is the place to be if you want to find a rental that takes pets. You’ll get dinged with the most expensive pet charges in Washington, DC. If you’re looking to live somewhere with lots of businesses catering to your furry companion, San Diego is the place to go. Overall, San Francisco and the rest of the West are paw-some, offering plenty of pet-friendly rentals, low fees, and lots of opportunities to buy stuff for your four-legged friend.

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Gone In 60 Days: Where Homes Are Moving Fastest This Spring

Buyers need to move a bit faster this year in order to snag their dream house, even in some of the slowest-moving markets. Homes are going especially quick in the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, Seattle, and Salt Lake City.

Housing inventory remains tight, and one of the questions on the minds of many homebuyers this Spring is just how fast they will have to move to get the home they want and can afford.

To find out how long homes are staying on the market, we calculated the share of homes for sale on Trulia over a two-month period. We first looked at homes listed on February 5, then counted how many were still for sale on April 5. Faster-moving markets had a lower percentage of homes still on the market after two months, while slower-moving markets had a higher percentage.

Trulia_FastestMovingMarkets_Infographic_Apr2015Our two-month measure is similar to a common housing statistic: days on market (DOM). In general, housing markets with more inventory and fewer buyers will have a higher share of for-sale homes remaining on the market after two months and a higher median DOM. But we prefer our two-month measure over the widely watched DOM as a way to determine how quickly homes are moving in a market. Why? We think DOM is potentially misleading. If lots of new inventory suddenly lands on the market, then the median DOM could fall thanks to all those newly listed homes. Thus, a low median DOM might indicate that buyers are snapping up homes quickly, so homes aren’t staying on the market long (a seller’s market). But it could also signal that a lot of new inventory has just come onto the market (a buyer’s market). As a result, it’s difficult to decipher what’s really going on based on DOM alone.

Looking for a Bargain Home? So Is Everyone Else.
Nationally, 60% of homes listed for sale on February 5 were still on the market on April 5, down a bit from 62% for the same period last year. What’s quickening the pace of sales? It turns out it’s homes priced at the low end of the market. To see this, we evenly divided all homes in each of the 100 largest U.S. metros into three price tiers. We gave each metro its own price cutoffs based on what’s considered high-end, mid-range, and low-end locally. On average, lower-priced homes moved fastest. Only 50% of homes in this tier were still on the market after two months compared with 65% of higher-priced homes.

What’s more, home sales in the low-price tier sped up more compared with a year ago than sales in other tiers. The share of low-price homes still on the market after two months dropped 3 percentage points, compared with a 1 point drop for middle-tier homes and a 1 point increase for high-tier homes. As always though, the national trend hides big differences from one local market to another. In many metros, the sales pace is quickening, while in others it is slowing.

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California: Home to America’s Fastest-Moving Housing Markets
If you’re a home seller, California may indeed be the Golden State. Eight of the 10 fastest-moving housing markets are there, and homes are selling much faster than in the Northeast, South, and Midwest. In fact, fewer than 30% of homes for sale in the three San Francisco Bay Area metros remained on the market after two months. By contrast, about 70% of homes in Long Island and Albany, NY were still on the market. In addition, the only metros outside California that made the 10 fastest moving list were Seattle and Salt Lake City.

America’s Top 10 Fastest-Moving Housing Markets

# U.S. Metro % of homes still for sale after two months, April 2015 % of homes still for sale after two months, April 2014 Difference in share still for sale, 2015 vs 2014 Median Asking Home prices, April 2015
1 San Francisco, CA 26% 28% -3% $1,099,000
2 San Jose, CA 30% 31% -1% $800,000
3 Oakland, CA 30% 31% -1% $598,000
4 San Diego, CA 33% 44% -11% $549,990
5 Orange County, CA 41% 45% -3% $699,000
6 Seattle, WA 42% 45% -3% $409,993
7 Sacramento, CA 42% 45% -3% $396,950
8 Los Angeles, CA 43% 45% -3% $549,000
9 Ventura County, CA 43% 50% -6% $589,999
10 Salt Lake City, UT 45% 28% -6% $299,900
Note: Among the 100 largest U.S. metros. The two-month shares and the difference are rounded to the nearest percentage point, and the difference was calculated before rounding; therefore, the rounded difference might not equal the difference between the rounded shares. Click here to download the full results for each of the 100 largest U.S. metros. 

None of the fastest-moving markets have slowed since last year. In fact, the markets on our top 10 list that sped up the most are San Diego, Ventura County, and Salt Lake City. Other markets that are speeding up most rapidly are almost exclusively in the South and Southwest. The share of homes for sale in Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL still on the market two months later dropped from 64% in April 2014 to 47% in April 2015. El Paso, TX and Richmond, VA also sped up at a similar pace, even though homes in those markets aren’t moving quickly enough to land them on the 10 fastest-moving markets list.

To illustrate this point, the figure below shows that homes in markets with bigger price increases tend to move faster, though not always. For the most part, these fast-moving metros are sellers’ markets where homes don’t sit very long.

Trulia_FastestMovingMarkets_Scatterplot_Apr2015

Housing Markets Moving Sluggishly in Long Island and Albany, NY
In contrast, the slowest-moving markets are in the Northeast, including Long Island and Albany, and in the South, including Columbia, SC, and Knoxville. All but two of the 10 slowest-moving markets had year-over-year price increases below the 5% national average. However, even among these snail’s-pace markets, the share of homes still for sale after two months dropped in five of 10 metros. Knoxville and Long Island both all sped up 2 percentage points this year compared with last. It’s true that in six of the metros on this list, the pace of sales slowed in 2015 compared with the year before. The pace of sales slowed the most in Miami (9 points) and Pittsburgh (4 points)

America’s Top 10 Slowest-Moving Housing Markets

# U.S. Metro % of homes still for sale after two months, April 2015 % of homes still for sale after two months, April 2014 Difference in share still for sale, 2015 vs 2014 Median Asking Home prices, April 2015
1 Albany, NY 71% 70% 1% $264,900
2 Long Island, NY 69% 71% -2% $474,995
3 Syracuse, NY 68% 67% 1% $153,000
4 Columbia, SC 67% 69% -1% $170,000
5 Knoxville, TN 67% 69% -2% $184,900
6 Pittsburgh, PA 67% 62% 4% $155,000
7 Lake County –Kenosha County, IL-WI 67% 64% 3% $289,000
8 Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA 65% 65% 0% $249,000
9 Birmingham, AL 65% 66% -1% $193,000
10 Miami, FL 65% 56% 9% $319,000
Note: Among the 100 largest U.S. metros. The two-month shares and the difference are rounded to the nearest percentage point, and the difference was calculated before rounding; therefore, the rounded difference might not equal the difference between the rounded shares. Click here to download the full results for each of the 100 largest U.S. metros. 

Why do some markets speed up while others slow down? Last year we found the fastest moving markets were those that had the largest year-over-year price gains. Things don’t appear to have changed this year. In fact, asking prices increased near or above the national average of 5% year-over-year in six of the 10 fastest-moving markets.

But fast-moving markets are different in other ways, too. They tend to be more expensive to begin with. In other words, they have both higher price levels AND they’ve notched bigger price increases in the past year. Expensive markets—including many in California—have tight housing supplies because of limited construction in the face of growing demand. So homes get snapped up quickly. And this is bad news for first-time homebuyers. The combination of an expensive market and fast-selling homes at the low tier is yet another hurdle for first-timers, who are already getting slammed by declining affordability and slow wage growth. Now, even the homes they might be able to afford seem to be disappearing in the blink of an eye.

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Why House Hunters Should Skip Sunday Brunch

Open houses overwhelmingly take place on Sundays and start most frequently at 1 p.m., but this isn’t always the case. Some open houses do happen between Mondays and Fridays, especially in the West. Likewise, Sunday open houses are much more likely to begin after 2 p.m. in some Southern housing markets, perhaps due to religion and local culture.

Open-House-Inforgraphic-large

The home-buying season is upon us. With that comes millions of open houses across the country, where sellers show off their properties and would-be homebuyers take stock. So whether you’re a buyer, a seller, or just a nosey neighbor, here’s the story on when for-sale homes are likely to be open to the public. We’ve uncovered these insights by analyzing all listings on Trulia with scheduled open houses in 2014.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday: The go-to day for open houses
If you’re planning on holding an open house, actively home shopping, or just want to stroll the neighborhood and poke your head in—no surprise—weekends are far and away the most common time for showing homes. But the breakdown is not even between the two weekend days. Open houses are over 2.5X more likely to take place on Sundays than on Saturdays, 67% versus 24%. So if you’re hunting for a home this weekend, looking on Sunday may give you the most choices.

OpenHouse_DayofWeek_Graph

Where You Can Hit Up Open Houses on Weekdays
But what if you can’t make weekend open houses? If you live in the West, you have a much better opportunity to attend an open house during the week. Over 11% of open houses in the West are held on weekdays. If you live in the Midwest, you’re out of luck. Only 5% of homes in the Midwest are held Monday through Friday. Weekday open houses in the Northeast and South make up about 8% and 9% of all open houses, respectively. The most common weekday for open houses is Friday except for the Northeast, where Thursday reigns.

OpenHouse_Weekday_Graph

Most Popular Time to Kick Off an Open House: Noon to 2 p.m.
While “location, location, location” is the mantra for real estate value, “time of day, time of day, time of day” may be the slogan for open houses. Among Saturday and Sunday open houses in 2014, 1 p.m. was the most common starting time, with a whopping 85% beginning at either noon, 1 p.m., or 2 p.m. But not all metros are alike. In the South and the Midwest, 95-99% of all 2014 open houses began between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., a bigger percentage than in other regions. The West and Florida had the smallest percentages. But, even in those regions, between 45% and 68% of open houses began during the two-hour noon-to-2 p.m. window.

OpenHouse_Time_Graph

Where Most Open Houses starting at 12pm, 1pm, or 2pm
U.S. Metro % Open Houses
Wichita, KS 99%
Little Rock, AR 98%
Knoxville, TN 97%
Newark, NJ-PA 97%
Oklahoma City, OK 96%
Louisville, KY-IN 96%
Columbus, OH 96%
Birmingham, AL 95%
Tulsa, OK 95%
Wilmington, DE 95%
Note: among the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

 

Where Fewer Open Houses starting at 12pm, 1pm, or 2pm
U.S. Metro % Open Houses
Fort Lauderdale, FL 45%
Las Vegas, NV 53%
Salt Lake City, UT 55%
Phoenix, AZ 56%
Winston-Salem, NC 60%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL 61%
El Paso, TX 62%
Greensboro-High Point, NC 65%
Miami, FL 67%
Worcester, MA 68%
Note: among the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

Where the “Church Effect” on Open Houses Is Very Real
A full 70.7% of Sunday open houses took place in the afternoon in 2014 compared with a bare majority of 51% of Saturday open houses. The greatest discrepancy was at 2p.m. Open houses held on Sundays were more than twice as likely to start at that hour as Saturday open houses.

OpenHouse_SatvsSun_Graph

This got us thinking: Are Sunday mornings and early afternoons reserved for churchgoing? At first glance, the answer was no. When it came to open house timing, we found that metros with the largest percentage of Christians were no different than other metros.

But things looked different when we examined the data more deeply. It turns out that Sunday open house scheduling did vary by metro in 2014 depending on which Christian denominations were most heavily represented. Those metros with the biggest concentrations of evangelical Christians were much more likely to have Sunday open houses that began after 2 p.m.  Why? It’s possible that evangelicals have longer church services, more active churchgoing members, or both. In metros with the largest proportion of evangelicals, sellers might hold Sunday open houses later in the day to avoid conflicting with church services.

OpenHouse_ChurchEffect_Graph

But was this also a regional rather than just a religious effect? Metros with the largest percentages of evangelical Christians are largely in the South, a part of the country where midday Sunday dinners and family get-togethers might be more common. Indeed, we did find that Southern metros overall were more likely to have open houses that started at 2 p.m. or later, especially on Sunday.  But the evidence of a religious effect was strong. Among Southern metros, those with large evangelical concentrations were nearly three times as likely to hold open houses in the afternoon on Sunday as on Saturday.

Open-House-Inforgraphic-Bible-Belt-Blog

The lesson here is that open house timing depends significantly on local culture. How people spend their time on weekends reflects faith, tradition, and custom. And those are things to which the real estate industry adapts.

Note: Our open house data consists of the date and start times of all scheduled open houses reported to Trulia in 2014. However, those data do not include ending times of open houses.

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