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Buying Cheaper Than Renting in Nearly 100 Major U.S. Markets

Buying is more affordable than renting in 98 out of the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas -- even in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, according to real estate company Trulia's rent vs. buy index.

The index is based on asking prices for rental units and homes for sale on the company's website between Dec. 1, 2011, and Feb. 29. But as they turn to renting, the influx of demand squeezes the nation's rental supply, pushing monthly rents higher.

The nation's median rent stands at $712 per month -- well above the average monthly mortgage cost of $647, Paul Dales, senior economist at Capital Economics, recently found. He estimated decreased vacancies in the home-rental market will push average rental rates up as much as 5 percent by early 2013, compared to 2.4 percent in January.

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