By Nora Tooher

Buying is more affordable than renting in the Philadelphia metro area and many other parts of the country, according to a report from Zillow.

Nationally, buyers buying a median-priced home with a 20 percent down payment at prevailing mortgage rates need spend only 15 percent of their income on mortgage payments.

Renters, however, who make the national median income and rent a median-priced apartment, can expect to pay about 30 percent of their income in rent.

In the Philly metro, the percentage of monthly income devoted to mortgage payments as of the third quarter was 14.6 percent – about half the 28.8 percent of monthly income renters fork out each month.

First-time homebuyers, who typically earn less money and have less for a down payment, can expect to spend slightly more of their income on mortgage payments – 17.4 percent nationally and 18.1 percent in Philadelphia.

A majority of metros nationwide posted higher home ownership affordability in the third quarter. In several large California metros, however, homeowners pay an increasingly high portion of their income on mortgage payments: Los Angeles, 40.8 percent; San Francisco, 41.5 percent; San Diego, 34.1 percent and San Jose, 38.2 percent.

Several of those metros also are among the most unaffordable for renters. Of the largest 35 metros areas, those where the highest proportion of income is required for rent include Miami, 44.5 percent; San Francisco, 45.9 percent; Los Angeles, 47.9 percent and San Diego, 42.5 percent.

The median home value in the Philadelphia metro area at the end of the third quarter was $202,900, according to Zillow. That's an increase of 5 percent from the year before. Zillow is forecasting a 2.1 percent gain within the next year.

The Zillow Rent Index in the Philly metro was $1,554, which is higher than both the Pennsylvania median rent of $1,220 and the U.S. median rent of $1,337.