Rents are rising at the fastest pace in almost two years

The critical housing shortage is now taking its toll on renters. Potential buyers are having an increasingly difficult time finding a home they can afford, so they are renting longer.

That’s pushing rental demand higher and rent prices along with it.

The median rent in the United State rose 2.8 percent over the past year to $1,445, the fastest pace of appreciation since May 2016, according to Zillow. Rents are rising fastest in some expected markets, like Seattle and Sacramento, California, and in some unexpected places, including Minneapolis and Atlanta.

Rental appreciation had slowed in the past two years as new apartment supply came online following a construction boom. But it is now rising again due to the record-low supply of homes for sale.

“For-sale inventory is tight, and with home prices continuing their rapid climb, it’s becoming more and more difficult for renters to become owners, forcing them to rent longer than they otherwise would have,” said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. “Searching for the ‘right’ home has become a drawn- out affair and rising prices require more savings for a down payment.”

The strong pace of apartment construction in the last five years has mitigated some of the supply problem, but most of the new apartments are in luxury buildings. Luxury rents have actually come down in the past six months, but rents in the rest of the market, where supply is leaner, are doing just the opposite.

Rising mortgage rates only exacerbate the problem because they decrease affordability for potential buyers as well. New households are forming at the fastest pace in two years, and more of them are owner households, a reversal from the recession when renter households outpaced owners by far. But current renters are not moving to ownership at even close to a normal pace, and that is keeping occupancies high.


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