Should you buy or rent? To answer that question, ask yourself where you will be in 28 months.
Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries tells CNBC's "On the Money" that home ownership is a good bet when "buying is more advantageous than renting." On a national level right now, he says, that number is on average just 2.3 years.
"Everyone understands if you're going to be in a house 20 years, you should buy a house," Humphries says. "And if you're going to be in a house for six months, you should rent it."
Still, there is a caveat: "What they don't understand is when those two lines cross," Humphries said, calling that the "Breakeven Horizon." That is the gray area in which consumers should make the decision whether to rent or purchase, when the accumulated costs of renting exceed those of buying.
With mortgage rates so low, "nationally you don't have to be in a house very long to make that decision," he says. Although the average "break-even" point across the country is just over two years, there's a big variation depending on where you live, Humphries added.
According to Zillow research, in New York City (Manhattan), the "break-even horizon" can be five to seven years. In Miami or Detroit, however, that number is closer to one year.
"So if you're going to stay overnight in Detroit, you should think about maybe buying a house." Humphries joked.