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Despite news trickling out of the housing industry, 72 percent of all Americans believe that homeownership is part of the American Dream (Trulia.com). Unfortunately, those interested in converting from renting to buying have been sitting by the wayside and that is contributing to a sluggish recovery of the housing market. Their decision may cost them dearly down the line as there is new information backing that the time to buy a home is now.

Buying vs. Renting Playing Field Leveled

New information released by Credit Suisse may help motivate consumers as the Zurich based financial service company has noted that the price gap between owning a home and renting has become increasingly slim. In the real estate industry, the scale has tipped in favor of buyers. The national landscape is flooded with excess property featuring highly discounted listing prices and mortgage rates are historically low. Those two factors combined are making it increasingly practical for consumers to make the switch from renter to homeowner.

The information was garnered from a Credit Suisse report on the future growth of real estate investment trusts and involved cost analysis of owning a condo verses renting an apartment within the same neighborhood of two different markets (Stamford, Connecticut and Mission Bay, California). The firm reviewed monthly rent, mortgage payment, tax implications, homeowners association dues, and compared 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) and a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), each with a 20 percent down payment. The results indicated that the bridge between renting and buying is fairly close.

In Stamford, renters paid $2.30 per square foot. Condos with a 30-year FRM were $2.68 (16% higher than renting) and the ARM were $2.56 per square foot (12% higher than renting). In San Francisco, renters paid $3.40 per square foot, condominium owners with a 30-year FRM were $3.34 square feet (1.7% less than renting) and $3.18 per square foot for ARM financed properties (6.5% less than renting). All calculations may fluctuate based on additional variables.

Home Prices Declining

The real estate market is currently flooded with available properties and everyone from Uncle Sam to Aunt Betsy is in competition for homebuyers. As a result, home sellers have been slashing their prices, and the trend is set to continue throughout 2011. According to real estate data provider Clear Capital, July's huge decline in home sales have weakened the market and home prices are going to continue to decrease to below 2009 prices in the near future.

Their prediction is being made in despite of reports that home prices grew 5.7 percent in value June, July and August of 2010. According to HousingWire.com "The price gain through August is down 240 basis points from the July report, which dropped 70 bps from June."

Lowest Mortgage Rates in History

Freddie Mac started tracking mortgage rate information in 1971. Since then there have been highs such as the 1981's average mortgage rate of 16.63 (including 2.1 points) and reasonable opportunities such as the 5.04 percent (including .7 points) in 2009. However, nothing comes close to the average 4.43 percent (including .7 points) mortgage rate of August 2010.

The Federal Reserve has been keeping interest rates low for months as a way to stimulate the economy. At some point their generosity will end and cheap money will disappear from the landscape. Consumers who want to take advantage of the historically low mortgage rates should either choose to refinance or secure a new mortgage now, as chances are borrowing the same money will cost significantly more in the future.