fwiw -- and i realize this is but anecdotal, but it is illustrative of the general condition -- i live in suburban chicago, renting a house. i pay $2000/mo, property taxes are $550/mo. my rental payment then would support (ignoring upkeep/insurance/etc) a $1450/mo payment.at today's 30-year fixed rate (~6.5%), that would support a $230,000 loan. with 20% down, call the purchase price $290,000 -- and generously, as we are excluding all expenses but taxes.this house sold in 2005 for $460,000. houses in the neighborhood still list for $410,000.
Actually, this suggests to me that houses in your area are priced at something like fundamentals. Let us say the marginal tax rate of the typical buyer is 25 percent, that property taxes (which are deductible for most people) are at 1.5 percent, that maintenance costs about 2 percent, and that expect rent growth is 2.5 percent (i.e., a little less than recent CPI growth). Then the user cost of owning would be
410,000*(.065*.75 + .015*.75+ .02 -.025) = 22,550, or a little less than the $24,000 you are paying in rent right now.
Two financial advantages of owning that you are not considering are the tax benefit and the immunization from future rent increases. Of course, should interest rates rise to 8 percent, or tax policy change, these calculations change.