Buying becomes better deal than renting after three years

Retirement communities are a large draw for many seniors, but one of the biggest questions older adults face is whether buying a home later in life is better than renting. Now, results of a recent study might make the decision a little bit easier. Analysts from Zillow.com say buying becomes a better deal than renting after an average of just three years.

Zillow, a popular real estate information provider, looked at the common question a little bit differently. Rather than just considering prices, researchers also analyzed everything from local taxes to appreciation costs to changes in the rental market. They feel their results offer a better-rounded picture of a complex issue.

"People traditionally have looked at the price-to-rent ratio," Zillow senior economist Svenja Gudell told ABC. "But that's not comparing apples and apples. Our calculation takes into account all costs, plus tax deductions and inflation. It would be very hard for the average consumer to crunch these numbers."

Although the nationwide average was about three years, it was actually lower in several other areas. For instance, in the Detroit metro area, the break-even horizon is only about 1.7 years, while Las Vegas and Orlando are about the same.