Should you rent or buy in Atlanta? Metro among top in US to own a home

Here are seven tips to lower the cost of your first home.

As high-price luxury rentals begin to supplant affordable housing in Atlanta's rental market, you may want to consider homeownership.

» RELATED: Two Cobb spots among the healthiest housing markets in Georgia, study finds

In fact, the metro (Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell) was recently recognized as one of the top 20 areas where buying a home may be a smarter financial decision than renting based on the number of years you plan on sitting put. The new analysis comes from personal finance tech company SmartAsset.

Experts over at SmartAsset compared the total costs of buying and renting a typical home or rental in U.S. metros with a population larger than 200,000 for households earning $100,000 per year.

» RELATED: 7 of the priciest homes for sale in your metro Atlanta neighborhood

For homeownership, analysts assumed a mortgage rate of 4.5 percent, closing costs of $2,000 and a 20 percent down payment.

They then assessed the break-even point at which the total costs of renting become greater than total buying costs. Areas with the shortest time to break even are considered the top metros to buy over rent.

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Gary, Indiana, earned top honors on the list with an average monthly mortgage payment of $819, average monthly rent of $1,186. Its breaking point: 1.3 years.

Columbia, South Carolina, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, rounded out the top three metros.

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Atlanta ranked 17th overall for best metros in the country to buy vs rent. Here, the average monthly mortgage payment was found to be about $890, while the average monthly cost for rent amounted to $1,381. The breakeven point in Atlanta is 1.9 years. Home prices in Atlanta, according to SmartAsset, average $231,274.

SmartAsset analysts also created an interactive map to show where buying is a better option than renting based on amount of time.

Screenshot from SmartAsset's interactive on where buying is better than renting based on time.

Credit: SmartAsset

icon to expand image

Credit: SmartAsset

For example, in Atlanta, buying is a significantly better choice than renting after two-and-a-half years.

Explore the full SmartAsset study at

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But, The AJC previously reported, home prices may be on the rise. Compared to April 2017, metro Atlanta home prices in April 2018 were up 8.7 percent, the Atlanta Realtors Association determined.

The association actually found that the median price of a home sold in the 11-county region tracked by the Realtors during April was $274,000. A year ago, the median sales price was $252,000.

» RELATED: Atlanta home sales: Prices up, listings down in April

Additionally, a January analysis into how much Atlantans need to earn to buy an "average" house priced at $204,300 in Atlanta found that a salary of $43,388.44 per year may do the trick. But the earning increases to $50,105.27 if homebuyers put 10 percent down instead of 20 percent.

Thinking of buying a home in Atlanta?

Don’t forget to consider additional expenses, including homeowner’s insurance (about $700 per year on a $200,000 home), property taxes and regular maintenance and repair costs.

While examining the healthiest housing markets in the state, SmartAsset analysts concluded that homeowners in Fulton County (including Sandy Springs) pay the highest property taxes in Georgia, but the 1.07 percent average effective tax rate is still lower than the national average.

» RELATED: Should you rent or buy? 5 questions millennials should ask before deciding

More about Georgia's property tax rates by county at