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Homeowners now better off than renters?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 29, 2012 06:35 AM

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Half of all apartment dwellers nationwide are now "rent burdened."

That means they are coughing up 30 percent or more of their income for rent, finds a new report by the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute.

By comparison, the number of homeowners shelling out 30 percent or more of their paychecks on mortgage payments stands at a much lower 37.4 percent.

In fact, the number of homeowners struggling under heavier mortgage payments is about the same as it was before the recession, according to the study, which analyzed housing data from 2007-2010.

Now of course, one reason that homeowners are looking financially healthier may be simply due to the foreclosure epidemic, which forced those burdened under massive monthly payments back into the rental market.

Hardest hit have been renters making between $20,000 and $50,000 a year - such low and middle-income renters have seen their rental burden increase by more 6 percentage points. Renters making over $50,000 a year, by contrast, saw only a 2.1 percent increase in their overall housing costs, the UNH study finds.

If anything, these numbers are likely to have become even more skewed over the past two years, with rents having spiked in Boston and in many other metro markets in 2011 and during the first half of 2012. (As noted, UNH study does not go past 2010.)

The median rent for a Boston area apartment rose 2 percent from March 2011 to March 2012, I recently noted here, to a median of $1,834.

OK, ever since the real estate bubble burst, some long-term renters have been unable to resist the urge to poke fun at all those seemingly hapless homeowners, reveling in the fact they didn't buy during the bubble years.

But with rents soaring and new construction just starting to kick in, it certainly looks like the tables have turned.

So who's crying now?


This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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