How-to Monday: Rental costs
Photo by Lloyd Fox, Sun photographer
How much does it cost to rent a place around here? That depends entirely on what you mean by "here."
M/PF YieldStar, which tracks apartment buildings, says the average rent for a two-bedroom in downtown Baltimore is about $2,020 a month. Elsewhere in the city, it's just over $930. Big difference.
Costs range in the rest of the region, too:
Eastern Baltimore County: $880.
Western Baltimore County: $980.
Northern Anne Arundel County: $1,220.
Ellicott City/Columbia: $1,220.
M/PF YieldStar says its surveys include buildings with at least five units, but in general the figures are drawn from sizable complexes. The area also has a lot of condos, rowhomes and houses for rent, so the full spectrum of opportunities include properties that are cheaper and more expensive than typical apartments.
Kevin, frequent Wonk commenter and co-keeper of the Baltimore Housing Bubble blog, suggested a comparison between rental costs and for-sale costs. (When it's a lot more expensive to buy than to rent, economists have said, sale prices will inevitably drop.) It's a good idea, but alas -- there's no simple way to contrast M/PF YieldStar's averages against sales prices because the areas the company tracks don't have neat boundaries like counties or ZIP codes.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calculates "fair market rent" figures for each county. But because the numbers are basically the same across the metro area -- $1,013, with one exception -- I hesitate to use them.
So, in lieu of a county-by-county comparison, here's a look at the Baltimore region overall:
Monthly rent across the metro area, according to M/PF YieldStar, was about $1,080 in March for a two-bedroom.
If you bought the average home in March ($298,000) and put 10 percent down, you'd be paying about $1,780 in principal and interest each month. That doesn't include property taxes, insurance and the like. (E-Loan calculates the principal-and-interest cost as more like $1,390 a month once you figure in the income tax savings.)
Fair comparison? Hard to say, without knowing the size, condition and neighborhood situation of the average apartments for rent and average homes for sale. Tenants: How do local buying opportunities compare vs. your rental costs?