The cost to purchase a house in the Lowcountry stands quite a bit cheaper than the payout to lease, a national home-information website concludes.

In its countrywide Rent vs. Buy Report, Trulia discovered that buying a home in metro Charleston would be 47.8 percent less expensive than renting one, based on a median home value of $210,794 and median monthly rent of $1,525. The home value factors in mortgage payments and assumes buyers move every seven years while leveraging a 20 percent down payment.

The gap between acquiring and renting a home is wider in the Lowcountry than the nation, which is 34.8 percent, Trulia pointed out in its twice-a-year study.

The company also broke down lease-versus-purchase rates by local communities, publicizing a mix of places.

The home-bargain rates were highest in St. Stephen, which offers a 61.3 percent cheaper price to buy than rent, based on a $111,596 median home value and $1,250 a month median lease; and lowest at Kiawah Island, in which a median home value of $1,001,863 is 31.3 percent less expesnive than a $4,742 monthly midpoint rent.

Other cited cities and towns were North Charleston, a 56.9 percent discount to buy versus rent based on a $134,288 median home value and $1,300 lease payment; Sullivan’s Island, 49.6 percent less expensive using a $1,562,988 home value and $7,080 rent; Mount Pleasant, a 48.2 percent improvement based on a $387,790 median value and $2,400 monthly rent; Charleston, a 47.7 percent benefit at a $257,234 median value and $1,695 rent; and Seabrook Island, 33 percent cheaper with a $504,892 median home price and $2,500 monthly lease.

For this survey, Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin took a closer look at retiree cost savings, finding it would be 54.9 percent cheaper for seniors to buy than to rent assuming shoppers intend to live in their home at least 15 years, plan to put down 20 percent and would be in a lower income tax bracket.

“For these households, though, buying only makes more sense than renting if you don’t want to leave an inheritance behind via your home’s equity,” says Cecilia Xia, public relations specialist with the San Francisco based online site.

According to the Trulia research, “those trying to decide whether to buy or rent a home this spring will have the easiest decision in the South. Eight of the 10 metros that offer the largest financial advantage of homeownership are there.”

The list includes third-place Columbia, which offers a 51.1 percent less expensive cost for purchasing over versus leasing based on a $121,115 media home value and $1,150 monthly rent.

Trulia says it bases home loan rates on Mortgage Bankers Association figures from April 1.

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or