Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why Rent-to-Price ratios vary

I was talking to my colleague Tony Yezer yesterday about measuring rent-to-price ratios for different zip codes for Washington. It got me thinking about why rent-to-price ratios vary so much from place to place.

First is expected growth in prices. Places that are losing population (Detroit, Cleveland) will not see prices go up, because they have excess supply of housing, and will for the foreseable future. They must therefore have igh rent-to-price ratio (or low Price-Earning ratios for housing). Places that are gaining population but have no brakes on development will also not see prices go up, because house prices will not rise above replacement cost. For example, when house prices in Dallas go up a little bit, developers rush in to supply the market until prices fall back to construction cost. The only exception are places like the Park Cities, which have excellent schools that are not easily reproducible. Because prices don't go up in Dallas, the rent-to-price ratio is high.

Conversely, San Francisco and Maui are not replacable, so while they are somewhat volatile, the underlying house price trends are upward. As Gyourko, Sinai and Mayer point out, as people in the upper reaches of the income distribution get richer, they outbid each other for these unusual places: they can be viewed as the Monets of real estate. But these places are unusual.

The other thing that can influence rent-to-price ratios is the tax code. Because mortgage interest is deductible, owning is relatively more valuable in places with high federal and state marginal tax rates (i.e., Cailfornia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland). The large place with the highest combined Federal and State Tax Rate is likely San Jose; that with the lowest is El Paso. Sure enough, rent-to-price ratios in San Jose are very low; in El Paso they are very high.

1 comment:

davelindahl said...

You can also do an equity share with the owner. The owner transfers title to an entity in which the two of you are partners. The property is refinanced for the purchase price. The owner gets out as much of his equity as he can, and becomes an equity partner for the rest.
For example, David lindahl scam reports that if an owner has a property he is selling to you for $1,000,000. His current mortgage amount is $650,000. He transfers the title, and the property is refinanced for $800,000. He gets $150,000 of his equity and he becomes an equity partner for the remaining $200,000.The benefit to the owner is that he gets 20% of the monthly cash flow, plus his 20% equity stake will be worth more when the property appreciates.