Our friends at Trulia.com have recently designed a free interactive rent vs. buy calculator that's a good bit more detailed than others I've seen, and it's localized for any of the top 100 cities in the U.S. Here's what it shows comparing renting (at $2,000/month) vs.buying the median-priced Portland single family house ($290,000).
For renting to be the same cost as buying you'd have to be able to rent that median priced home for $1400/month. On the Trulia calculator you can slide the marker to adjust any of the items and see the buying vs. renting bars change as you do. The Trulia calculator is here. You can also use it to see how much house you could buy for any given rent before it was cheaper to rent. At $1500/month rent, it's cheaper to buy a house up to $310,000. You can also see the effect of selling at different points. The longer you stay in a house, the more the equation shifts toward buying, or the more house you can afford.
A Forbes Magazine article about rent vs. buy calculations in other cities, including the 10 "no-brainer" cities for buying and the 10 that might be approaching renting being the better choice, is here, along with the details behind the Trulia calculator.
If you're a renter who'd like to see what it would take to buy in Portland, let's find a time to explore that question together, and see what your rent today might buy. Email me at DaveSutton@Windermere.com or call or text me at 503.505.9722. No cost, no obligation.