Buying a home is no longer a no-brainer, whether you are buying as an investment or to live in it.
That is the message to draw from current measures of value in many metropolitan markets.
The fundamentals have changed from six months ago, when some economists and analysts said that low prices and low mortgage rates made it a great time to buy a home in most of the U.S.
The latest thinking is a reflection of how far and how fast home values have climbed. In the year ended in November, home prices rose 14%, as measured by the most-recent S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index.
Some markets, such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, saw prices rise by more than 20%.
In general, “you can’t buy now and expect a big gain,” says Morris Davis, an associate professor in the real-estate department at the University of Wisconsin’s business school in Madison. “There’s more risk than there was.”
One widely tracked measure of housing costs is the average national home price divided by the average rent. That ratio stood at 14 in the third quarter, according to Moody’s Analytics, using the most recent data. That is above the average ratio of 12 between 1989 and 2003, which is considered a “normal,” preboom home market.