Sunday, May 06, 2012

"Rents soar"

by Bill McBride on 5/06/2012 06:49:00 PM

From Alejandro Lazo at the LA Times: Rents soar as foreclosure victims, young workers seek housing

The foreclosure mess has pushed millions of former homeowners with tarnished credit into a competitive apartment market across the U.S. Add fresh demand from young workers, few new units and tight standards for home loans, and the result is rental sticker shock not seen in years.

Rents are surging from New York to Los Angeles. The average monthly U.S. rent for apartments hit $1,008 in the first quarter, pushing past the all-time high set in the third quarter of 2008, according to the data firm RealFacts. USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate forecasts a 10% jump in Los Angeles County rents over the next two years. In certain markets, it is now cheaper to own a home than rent. ... Rob Magnotta, a real estate agent, recently listed his two-bedroom Irvine condominium for rent on Craigslist for $2,300. He had six applicants within 24 hours, including one who wrote a poignant letter about losing a home to foreclosure.

"It was almost too easy," said Magnotta, who chose another renter. "I know the rental market was strong. But until you are actually renting the place, I think you are surprised it is that strong."

A big driver of rent increases has been demand from young workers who are striking out on their own after doubling up with family members during the worst of the economic downturn.
It makes sense that rental demand has been increasing: Demographics are favorable for rentals right now (see graph below: a large cohort is moving into the 25 to 35 year old age group), people who have lost their homes to foreclosure (or short sales) are turning to renting, and some people have probably stopped "doubling up".

The house price-to-rent ratio is back to normal, and further rent hikes will provide support for house prices. Although, as Lazo notes, only people in "good shape financially" are able to buy.

Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image.

This graphic is from the Census Bureau and shows the number of people by age and sex in the US based on the 2000 and 2010 Census. See: Age and Sex Composition: 2010

The baby boom generation is obvious, but there is also a fairly large cohort moving into the key renting age groups. Note that this graph is from two years ago.

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