An article on the current cost of home ownership in the U.S. appeared in a recent issue of the Financial Times (3/3/2006). The piece starts off with the tale of one California man who had decided to sell his historic 5 bedroom home in favor of renting, a move that surprised many in his circle. But his timing may prove out: an HSBC survey of housing shows that the cost of ownership in some key markets has far exceeded the costs of renting.
In markets like LA and San Francisco, the extra cost of home ownership over renting is about 100%, even with the tax deductions given to mortgage payments. A graphic within the FT article showed that Austin was the only key market where buying a home with a repayment mortgage did not incur added costs over renting. For more info, see the HSBC survey at this link.