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Study: In Atlanta and beyond, homeowners are faring better than renters

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New study shows shifts in housing market putting more pressure on renters, amplifying inequality

A recent report by Apartment List shows just how much the housing market has changed since the recession — in Atlanta and beyond.

The study, which paints a less-than-ideal picture for renters, shows how much the landscape has changed in the aftermath of the mortgage crisis. Nationally, the costs of homeownership have gone down while homeownership rates have reached record lows.

And, making it quite frustrating for those not owning a home, the costs associated with renting a place have risen nationwide during a time when more and more Americans are renting apartments and single-family homes.

According to the analysis of U.S. Census data, the downturn especially hit those in Sunbelt Cities such as Las Vegas, Orlando, and — yes — Atlanta; Americans under the age of 45; and Hispanic and African-American consumers.

Specifically in metro Atlanta, renter costs have hovered just at about the same level from 2007 to 2014 (actually, decreasing by 1.8 percent), while the price of homeownership has dropped by a whopping 18.8 percent. (Of course, in the city proper there's a much different story playing out).

This next bit is interesting, coming from officials with an apartment website: While a national drop in homeownership rates has serious implications for longterm financial health, those who do own are often reaping the benefits of lower costs, especially compared to renters, the website found.

Historically, low interest rates mean monthly payments have dropped 13 percent since 2007. That can add up: the median monthly mortgage payment is $2,754, but widespread refinancing has cut that to $2,263, a savings of roughly $6,000 a year. With median household income at $54,000 in 2014, that extra money can provide a significant boost.

The story is much different for renters. Rents have increased an average of 3.7 percent nationwide, exacerbating differences between owners and renters.

It's probably not the news that Atlanta millennials especially want to hear — i.e., those stuck between the rock of student loans and the hard place that is saving for a downpayment while actually having a life.