It might still be cheaper to buy in the District if the rent has broken $2100/month. In September, real estate website Trulia introduced interested parties to their price calculator. It allowed potential homeowners to see if it was cheaper to rent or buy in a given city and allowed users to change some of the factors such as tax bracket and number of years to own a house. Plus, it had cool interactive bubbles on a map that changed color.
Now they've got another interactive calculator that shows the comparative differences of renting vs. buying using a bar graph. So, while Trulia shows us that it's 34% cheaper to buy in D.C. (and that it was 41% cheaper to buy in D.C. at this time last year), that number changes as one adjusts things like your target home and rental price. For example, if you lower the target rental price from $2100/month to $1800/month (the average rental price in D.C. as of November), it's suddenly only 26% cheaper to buy. Also, that number is looking at a $330,000 property. The costs even out if a renter paying $1800/month is looking to buy a $450,00 property. It evens out if a renter paying $2100/month wants to buy a property asking at least $530K. Go ahead and play with the calculator yourself.
· Rent vs. Buy Calculator [Trulia]
· Rent or Buy? Playing With Trulia's Price Calculator [CDC]