Should you buy or rent your next home? It's a major decision for many.

Home sales
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To make that decision a bit easier, real estate database ATTOM Data Solutions has released a report that breaks down the math in New Jersey's housing markets and determines whether it's more affordable to rent a three-bedroom home or buy one in each of them.

The report analyzed nearly all of New Jersey's counties — all but Salem — using 2017 fair market rent data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and 2016 public record sales deed data.

Based on monthly payments alone, ATTOM found it's more affordable to rent than buy in 55 percent of New Jersey's markets, or 11 counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Union, Morris, Burlington, Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren and Cape May.

Monthly rent in Union County was calculated at about $1,700, for example, compared to a mortgage payment of more than $2,300, including property taxes and interest.

In the other nine counties, mortgage payments were found to be cheaper than monthly rent. In Cumberland County, owning a home was calculated at just $870 per month, compared to $1,570 monthly to rent.

rent or buy? Attom Data Solutions 2017 report
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On a national level, buying was found to be more affordable than renting in 66 percent of the markets analyzed.

Mortgage interest rates were a major difference maker in several markets, including in the Garden State. If the rate were pushed up by just a point, it would be more affordable to buy in three fewer New Jersey counties.

"The most important factor in 2017 for the buy vs. rent equation is interest rates," said Daren Blomquist, ATTOM senior vice president. "As those go up, it actually may be more favorable in many areas to keep renting if you're already renting, and not to buy."

Blomquist said even in markets where buying is considered cheaper than renting on a monthly basis, folks still may be turned off by a sizeable down payment and the commitment involved with owning.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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