A new report shows that buying makes better sense financially than renting in the Washington area as long as you plan to stay in the home an average of 3.5 years.

A for-sale sign is displayed outside of a home. (Jim R. Bounds/Bloomberg)

The real estate company looked beyond the usual price-to-rent ratio and included costs associated with buying such as down payment, mortgage vs. rental payments, transaction costs, property taxes, utilities, maintenance costs and tax deductions. It also adjusted for inflation, forecasted home value and rental price appreciation.

For most of the United States, it made more sense to buy rather than rent if you planned to stay in a home at least three years.

“Across most of the country, historic levels of affordability make buying a home a better decision than ever, especially considering rents have risen more than 5 percent over the past year,” said Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist. 

In the Washington metro area, the amount of time varies depending on where you live.

A homeowner in Forest Heights in Prince George’s County would break even after just 1.3 years, while a homeowner in Chevy Chase Village in Montgomery County wouldn’t break even until 9.5 years. 

A homeowner in Manassas in Prince William County would break even after 2.9 years, while a homeowner in McLean in Fairfax County would break even after 7.6 years.

A homeowner in the District would break even after 4.5 years.