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Monday, 08 July 2019

Home Ownership Viewed as Too Expensive By Growing Number of Renters

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Commercial Real Estate Direct Staff Report

A growing number of renters believe that renting their homes is more affordable than owning, according to a recent survey by Freddie Mac.

The housing-finance agency, which four years ago started surveying households for opinions of housing affordability, found that 82 percent of the 4,000 households that responded to its latest survey thought renting was more affordable than owning. That's up 15 percentage points from its last survey, conducted in February 2018, and is the highest percentage ever recorded by the survey, explained Steve Guggenmos, vice president of Multifamily Research and Modeling at Freddie.

Nonetheless, absorption numbers for the multifamily market slipped substantially during the second quarter, to 36,052 units from 46,175 units in the first quarter, according to Reis Inc. But that's largely explained by the fact that the latest quarter included many properties that came online, but weren't quite ready for occupancy until late in the period.

Freddie's survey found that prospective home buyers are being impacted by down payment and closing cost requirements. A total of 88 percent of low-income renters cited the two costs as major obstacles, while 72 percent of middle-income renters cited them.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of all renters cited mortgage payments that would be higher than their rental payments as a major obstacle.

Reis, a New York research company that recently was acquired by Moody's Analytics, noted that the national vacancy rate had declined to 4.7 percent from 4.8 percent in the first quarter. It's been in that range since early last year and most likely will remain there for the near future.

That's mostly because construction activity is expected to slow later this year and remain relatively subdued through 2020 in many major markets. Construction during the second quarter amounted to 38,693 units, down from the 40,956 units at the start of the year.

The apartment market is also expected to add more units this year than the 261,000 units added in 2018, according to Reis. That's also higher than the 213,802 units added in 2017.

"Continued robust demand for rentals will likely manifest in vacancy rates that stay well in the 4s, or at most, rise to the low 5s," Reis said.

Despite the softer absorption numbers during the latest period, average asking rents still increased by 1.2 percent, to $1,471/unit, while effective rents were up by 1.3 percent to $1,400/unit.

So, even while rents have climbed and mortgage rates have declined - they dropped to an average of 4.09 percent for a 30-year mortgage during the first half from 5.09 percent last November, which would translate to a $120/month decline to $965/month for a typical $200,000 loan - renters still view the renting option as economically more affordable.

But the lower mortgage rates appear to be having a positive impact on the for-sale housing market, as the sale of existing homes in May increased by 2.5 percent from the month before to 5.34 million homes. That's the first increase in two months.

"There are folks getting a lot closer to homeownership," said Guggenmos. "About a third of the people we talked to are saving for a down payment, 24 percent have talked to real estate agents and 22 percent have spoken to a mortgage lender. We are looking to make these questions into a series, so we can see if those numbers increase in six months and next year."

Comments? E-mail Jim Boyle, or call him at (267) 247-0114.

 



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“The Weekly”

“The Weekly” is Commercial Real Estate Direct’s PDF newsletter, sent to subscribers every Friday morning. With over 100 news stories published on Commercial Real Estate Direct each week, “The Weekly” features the top stories in commercial real estate that industry participants need to know first. “The Weekly” also contains:

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Additional Info

  • Syndicate to Realpoint: No
  • Sector: Multifamily
  • Subject: Research (RES)
  • Company: Reis Inc.
  • Private: No
Read 369 times Last modified on Tuesday, 09 July 2019
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