There are many arguments out there regarding buying versus renting, but according to the real estate website Zillow, purchasing a home can pay off, on average, in just three years. Their new analytic tool called the “break-even horizon” helps prospective buyers explore why purchasing a home can more sense than renting.

Zillow senior economist Svenja Gudell notes, “For a home buyer out there, it is really tough to get a good grip on the buy-versus-rent decision. Although buying a home is a deeply personal decision, the analysis gives consumers a sense for ‘Am I ready to make this decision?'”

In defense of buying, building your own equity versus paying someone else’s mortgage tops the list of reasons why it usually makes more sense to buy. Zillow’s new valuation model compares what it costs to buy or rent in the same home, and while it depends on where you live, much of the data suggests that buying is a better choice.

Rents are on the rise and housing affordability is at record levels in many parts of the country, and Zillow hopes the data will assist home owners in determining whether buying or renting make sense for their particular financial situation. Their analysis covered more than 200 metros and 7,500 U.S. cities.

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