US Rental Property Market Outlook – Data and Perspectives
Landlords, investors and property managers need to know more than interest rates, best cities and best types of properties to buy.
There’s a wide range of data which comes into play when you’re buying, renting, and developing your property management operations and revenue model. And even statistics need a context and perspective to be meaningful. Let’s explore the US rental market.
Now in mid 2023, we’re well aware that rental market demand is strong and new streams of renters are entering the rental market. They’ll be paying higher rents but they’re looking for a specific set of amenities which landlords should build their business upon.
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A Hot Market is Great, But How Long Will it Last?
Although homeowners are staying put, and renters are trapped at present, they won’t be in a few years. These vital rental market statistics should help you get your best rent price and keep a long term tenant for better performance.
Hopefully, we can answer most of your questions about the rental market in the next year, and which might be the best cities to buy rental property are.
Armed with your property management software platform, you’ll recognize your own set of rental property financial conditions and be better prepared to respond to changes in your local market. Enjoy this updated report which includes data from the Harvard State of the Rental Market Report, NAR, Zumper, Zillow, Urban Land Institute, Freddie Mac, PWC, and BEA.
Growth in Demand Persist.
While there is talk of falling rent prices, the data suggests that rents are rising. Immigration, high mortgage rates, high cost of living and property taxes, against low housing supply will continue to drive the rental market in 2023/2024. It’s an ideal situation for landlord investors as it’s almost a guarantee of break even and in some cases, record profits.
Yet smart landlords are looking for more, with new technology delivering efficiencies and greater profitability.
Lack of Rental Supply Will Keep Rent Prices Up
As the next 5 years evolve, we’ll likely see rent prices fall gradually. For 2023, higher interest rates and mortgage rates, along with continued immigration will pressure rental housing mercilessly. And as units in the affordable range are drying up each month, social unrest will mount, thus leaning toward rent controls and raised taxes to build affordable public housing.
Enjoy further insights in this newly revised State of the Rental Market Report for 2022 which includes the latest publicly available stats, projections and forecasts from major data sources and experts.
NAR Housing Forecast
NAR’s latest report shows where the regions and states with the worst issues with a lack of housing. Most of the severe shortages occur in blue states: Washington, California, New York, Illinois but also in Pennsylvania, Florida, Minnesota, and Georgia.
Zumper’s Rent Report May 2023
Zumper’s recent report shows rents for 2 bedroom and 1 bedrooms declining for the 7th month in a row. However, rent growth is still above 5%.
Zillow reports that despite a rise in typical rent, they believe a trend to rent moderation is underway in 2023. They report no rent price declines in any major metros. They believe this leasing season is going well, with workers returning to big cities to work. Slowest rent grow was seen in Buffalo NY (0.1%), Portland, OR (0.1%), San Antonio TX (0.1%), Sacramento CA (0.2%) and Miami FL (0.3%). Strongest monthly rent growth was in Providence RI (1.7%), San Diego CA (1.3%), Hartford CT (1.3%), New York NY (1.3%), and Boston MA (1.2%).
Zumper Rent Statistics
Perhaps the most meaningful chart reflecting the state of rental housing in America is this one from Zumper statistics.
Not only is the year over year rent growth strong in many cities, the monthly rate of rent growth is very high too. Year over year rent growth in Honolulu, Minneapolis, Tallahassee, Louisville, Raleigh, Durham reveal where Americans are migrating too, states which offer a better quality of life or lower taxes and good job opportunities.
|1 BEDROOM||2 BEDROOMS|
|28||St. Petersburg, FL||$1,590||6.00%||3.20%||$2,100||4.50%||-5.80%|
|1||New York, NY||$3,570||5.90%||4.40%||$3,930||2.90%||10.70%|
|16||Urban Honolulu, HI||$1,900||5.60%||18.80%||$2,580||6.20%||17.80%|
|13||Fort Lauderdale, FL||$2,100||5.00%||7.10%||$2,800||0.40%||-6.70%|
|96||El Paso, TX||$830||3.80%||-2.40%||$1,100||0.00%||13.40%|
|74||Winston Salem, NC||$1,030||3.00%||8.40%||$1,150||3.60%||9.50%|
|7||San Diego, CA||$2,400||1.30%||0.40%||$3,180||2.60%||4.30%|
|6||San Jose, CA||$2,600||1.20%||10.20%||$3,230||-1.20%||5.90%|
For investors, it highlights the force of migration as a factor in choosing the best cities for rental properties.
Small Landlords Still the Backbone of the Residential Property Industry
While big real estate corporations received infusions of stimulus cash, small landlords found rent default was a problem and receiving stimulus funds themselves to be difficult. Many of them reported selling condos, apartments etc., at a discount to to cash rich buyers.
Large real estate investment companies are buying, renovicting, and raising rent prices. The profit bonanza will likely be interrupted by politicians under pressure from growing homelessness and rent poor residents. The politicians likely will direct blame for the rental market status on “greedy landlords.”
Hopefully, small business landlords will find a way to hang onto their rental income properties and flourish in the next 5 years.
the global market is forecast grow at a CAGR of 8% from 2021 to reach $28.1 billion in 2028
What is the Size of US Rental Property Market?
According to Fortune Business Insights, the global property management market is projected to grow from $15.10 billion in 2021 to $28.21 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 9.3% in forecast period. Their numbers predict that the global property management market could grow from $15.10 billion in 2021 to $28.21 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 9.3% in forecast period.
The vacation rental market is a component of the greater residential market. It is expected to reach USD 113.9 billion by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 3.4% over the forecast period according to a 2020 report by Grand View Research, Inc.
Yet this recovering US rental housing market faces some perils. Government regulations, construction costs, unaffordable rent prices, homelessness, the end of pandemic stimulus payouts, rent default, and eviction moratoriums poses risks for investors.
Multifamily and apartment sectors were hit very hard during the recession and are just now beginning to fill vacancies created during the pandemic.
Key Questions for Rental Property Pros
- what properties should I buy or sell?
- is this a good time to enter the rental property business?
- is it a good time to launch a property management business?
- which demographic should I target?
- why are rents high and will they fall soon?
- are urban apartments too risky an investment?
- should I consider single family houses only?
- which cities are going to see the best price growth and higher rent yields?
- is rental income property the very best overall investment for the next 5 years?
Single family and moderate income apartments are where the big demand is and accordingly, recommendations are to buy or hold those properties. High density apartments are seeing lower vacancy rates as vaccinations increase and workers return to the cities to work.
After viewing these stats you might question whether the housing market is a golden egg or a ticking time bomb. A few even suggest a quiet slip into a housing market collapse might also occur.
For investors, the risk is there. Some housing economists suggest the catalyst and conditions for a housing market crash don’t exist and that at worst we could see a short slide this Q1 and Q2 of 2022, interrupted by lowered mortgage and another buying frenzy.
What makes the housing market and rental market difficult to comprehend is the multitude of buyers and sellers, each with their own financial circumstances. Generalizations are hard to make.
See more on the UK rental market and Australian rental market. Reports on the California rental market and Texas rental market are available as well.
The Rental Property Report
For your convenience, this rental housing market report has been divided up into digestible components:
- General State of the Rental Market
- Rental Market Statistics & Rent Prices
- Supply and Development Constraints Continue
- Rent Yields remain high
- Rental Market Statistics
- Top Drivers of the Rental Property Market
- Top Cities for Rent Growth
- Pandemic drives demand for more room
- Apartment and House Rent Prices Forecast for 2021?
- Multifamily outlook
- Harvard University Study Findings
- What are the Challenges for Rental Property Owners?
- Rental Property Types
- Are Renters are Getting Squeezed Too Hard?
- Should I Buy Rental Property as an Investment?
- US Housing Construction Forecast
1. General State of the Rental Market
As this NBER chart depicts, rental vacancies have reclined for 13 years, but last month we saw a slight uptick. It’s likely the units available are in the luxury priced category out of reach of renters, or are in cities/neighborhoods renters don’t want to live in. We know demand is very high in some cities, and not strong in others.
This recession is unusual as vacancy rates are normally high during economic downturns.
See more about the current population survey at Census.gov.
The rental property and property management sectors are huge and growing given more people will be forced to rent.
3. Supply and Development Constraints Continue
We wonder if the market is splitting to serve the haves vs the have nots in a new polarized society? The haves do not appear to be stopped by constrained supply. In fact, the luxury market is well served and new construction of luxury units may not be as affected by anti-development regulators. NAHB stats show new construction permits are down of late.
Although stimulus money may be flowing to state and city governments, regulations may prevent them building multifamily residences. The costs and logistics of such building projects are a big issue.
The key issue with the housing and rental markets is the inability of different levels of government to agree to permit building. High construction costs, rising demand, regulations, and few investors willing to risk their money for huge, speculative projects in the rent control era, means it’s more likely rents will rise.
Some question whether increased supply and high density will solve anything. There’s a point to be made that even if you build more affordable units in California, New York, or Miami, more people will move there and fill them up. Prices therefore may not fall given there is continuous demand.
4. Rental Yields Still High
Those investors in the rental market have done well, with yields (above 30% a couple of years ago in some cities), and even now some still reporting solid rental yields. Pandemic destination cities where urban residents have fled to during the pandemic fared very well however with the end of the pandemic, questions are being raised about the outlook of those cities going forward.
Will work from home employees be forced back into cities, or will they lose their jobs? It depends on political decisions made this year. Current landlords, burned by rent default losses and illegal occupation of their units are hoping 2022 will finally see things back to normal where they can run their businesses profitably.
Attom Data reports in its new Single-Family Rental Market report that profit margins on 3-bedroom single-family home rentals declined in 2022 across the US. They believe declines will be faster in areas that already had lower yields.
It’s believed rising rates and rising home prices, along with flat rent prices are eating away at yields. They report the US counties with the highest potential annual gross rental yields for 2022 included:
- Collier County (Naples) FL (16%)
- Atlantic County (Atlantic City), NJ (12.2%)
- Mercer County (Trenton), NJ (11.6%)
- Indian River County (Vero Beach), FL (11%)
- Charlotte County, FL (outside Fort Myers) (10.7%)
The weakest rent yields on 3-bedroom, single-family rentals were in:
- Santa Clara County (San Jose), CA (3.1%)
- San Mateo County (outside San Francisco) (3.2%)
- Williamson County, TN (outside Nashville) (3.9%)
- San Francisco County, CA (3.9%)
- Fayette County (Lexington), KY (3.9%)
And the top major metros with the best rental yields were:
- Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), OH (9.9%)
- Dallas County, TX (8%)
- Tarrant County (Fort Worth), TX, (8%)
- Franklin County (Columbus), OH (7.9%)
- Bexar County (San Antonio), TX (7.9%).
Attom Data’s report discovered median single-family, 3-bedroom home prices are rising faster than average wages in 195 of the 212 counties analyzed (92% of them).
Largest rent yield declines in counties with median home prices below $500,000 were:
- Kings County (Brooklyn), NY (from 7.6% in 2021 to 4% in 2022)
- New York County (Manhattan), NY (from 9.3% to 6.9%)
- Norfolk County, MA (outside Boston) (from 7.7% to 6.1%)
- Suffolk County (Boston), MA, ( from 6.7% to 5.3%)
- Williamson County, TN (Nashville) (from 4.9% to 3.9%).
5. Rental Market Statistics
If you’re one who needs statistics to weigh your investments and prices, let’s take a look at some stats that might predict markets in future.
IBIS World published a report recently that reflect the effect of Covid 19 pandemic on high density and high rise apartments. Prior to 2020 the apartment market was rising quickly nearing $192 Billion in the US market and is currently believed to be $174 billion.
Considering the recovery, and growth of rent prices and demand for apartments and condos returning this spring, plus stimulus money rolling into the US, the outlook may push it beyond US$200 Billion by 2023.
The apartment rental sector is huge. It employs over 852,000 people, yet only an average of 1.4 people per business. That reflects the industry is still a small business dominated industry, yet large corporations are buying up more properties and using technology to manage them efficiently.
Renter households are typically younger, less affluent, and more racially diverse than those who own their own homes. Statista reports that half of renters are under 30 years of age and 36% of those renters are in arrears. 38% of renters cannot afford to buy their own home.
However, wealthier renters make a much bigger piece of the pie of late.
It is the second tier of working class renters (earning up to $30k per year) who are finding it increasingly difficult to live on what they have left after paying their rent. Obviously, this consistent trend has to come to an end.
Rather the pouring money into alternative investments, investors might be encouraged to find a way to invest in rental housing.
6. Top Drivers of the Rental Property Market
These 15 factors may influence the rental housing market, priced drops, and which cities will be best to invest in.
- buyer market is young and unable to finance the purchase of a home
- not enough single detached homes available to buy
- risks in buying are high with high prices, rising mortgage rates and housing market uncertainty
- millennials are career-minded and not necessarily willing to buy now
- bank of mom and dad may be running out of money
- home and condo prices too high to purchase
- buyers won’t buy due to mortgage finance restrictions and long term worries over a recession
- cost of living rising
- millennial preference for older urban neighborhoods with walkability
- rents rising too fast compared to cost of buying a home
- cap rates not sufficiently better than other investment options
- immigration into the US is still strong
- retiring baby boomers having tough time places to move to
- more good condos and apartments available because regulations are decreasing and construction techniques are better
- number and share of cost-burdened renters – those paying more than 30 percent of their income rose
If rental properties are even a quarter of the $36 Trillion US real estate market, we can say with confidence that it has major economic impact. The growth in rental apartment, rental condos, and home rentals is creating a lot of jobs including property managers, landlords, and the kind of passive income many investors need.
Cities where investment and development will grow opportunities.
7. Top Cities for Rent Growth
Zumper showed its cities with the highest rent growth and Harvard’s report gives a nice visual of the hottest states and big metros.
Opportunity Shifted Outside Major Metros
Although inner-city apartment and condo rent prices may be falling, in the US, Australia and the UK capital cities, the migration to suburbs and outlying towns is forcing rent prices up in those areas. With lower property prices in those regions and new rising demand from homebuyers and renters, the rent revenue outlook is good.
Charlotte, San Antonio, Milwaukee, and Denver draw interested migrants. Chart courtesy of Zumper.com
If we project beyond summer of 2021, post Corona Virus, if the economy holds out, property rental prices should increase, and inner city apartment occupancy rate may rise again. This might be the basis of property manager’s positive outlook.
ULI offers its list of top housing markets, based on population growth, homebuilding outlook, affordability and job prospects:
- Nashville, Tenn.
- Raleigh/Durham, N.C.
- Phoenix, Ariz.
- Austin, Texas
- Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.
- Charlotte, N.C.
- Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
- Atlanta, Ga.
- Seattle, Wash.
- Boston, Mass.
8. Pandemic Drives Demand for more Room
The demand for single-family house rentals has grown more intense. And in some cities (in charts below) rent prices are rocketing upward. Opportunities for property investors and property managers have therefore changed.
On a national basis, the rental migration shift to the suburbs and small towns isn’t such a bad thing. It’s resulted in new construction and new jobs in regions in the UK and US that have struggled for decades. And it’s created new opportunities for profitable rental housing investment. New opportunities offer business possibilities for new property management startup companies.
9. Apartment and House Rent Prices Forecast for 2022 and Next 5 Years?
For most cities, single family house rental prices may continue to rise as they have this year.
And property investors are wondering if rental income and 2022 tax rules will keep the rental housing sector an acceptable market for business. Avoiding big tax losses might be the issue for investors.
What about apartment purchase prices?
10. Multifamily Outlook
Freddie Mac reported record performance for the multifamily market in the first two quarters of 2022. They further predict strength in the last half of the year. Fannie reports the same due to a combination of favorable demographics, continued job growth, rising wages, and increased renter household formations.
Fannie May says demand for multifamily rental housing will remain positive. That is based on a forecast of elevated single-family housing prices along with higher interest rates which makes homeownership far less affordable. They believe renters renters-by-choice will stay in their rental units longer than anticipated. Fannie Mae also reports a surge of new multifamily unit releases which will open up more demand for multifamily management companies.
They reported that investment activity declined sharply in the first half of 2020 but rebounded significantly during the second half of the year. They expect the multifamily vacancy rate to increase to 5.8%, while rents are predicted to fall -0.2%, leading to an estimated overall decline in gross income of -0.5%. They warn cities such as San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, and Miami will be troubled for some time.
Freddie Mac also forecasts the 2021 vacancy rate will rise 30 bps to 5.8%, while multifamily rent prices will fall 0.2%,
yet that is an improvement on 2020’s price drop of -2.9%.
Class C properties with downscale apartment rental tenants has been a troubled sector for landlords in 2020. The single family housing sector outside of dense inner cities has done well in 2020 and is the focus for investors in 2021.
The 2021/2022 outlook is stronger for single family due to demand for more space from all buyers including millennials starting families.
Screenshot above courtesy of Freddie Mac Multifamily 2021 Outlook Report. Learn more on multifamily in the Freddie Mac report.
For property investors, net operating incomes were growing strongly in the 3rd quarter of 2019 and investors were really stepping up investments. According to CoStar, the dollar volume of multifamily transactions rose 9% year over year, to $94 billion, through the first three quarters of 2019.
- new construction units are focused on higher-priced units
- air conditioning and in-suite laundry have grown strongly
- construction costs are rising
- apartment prices have doubled since 2010
- low rent apartments are increasingly unavailable
- actual renter market has been shrinking
- middle-income renters are increasingly cost-burdened
11. Harvard University Findings
Harvard produces a report each year on the rental market entitled: America’s Rental Housing. In it is a wide variety of stats that reflect the condition of properties and renters across the US.
Renters are wealthier as more of them are earning above $75,000 per year, but they are renting vs buying a home. Those at the bottom of the renter pool are earning less and renting less. The 2020 Harvard report didn’t specify what has happened to the lower-income group, but notes that homelessness is rising.
Chart courtesy of Harvard.edu.
While single family home construction has grown stronger in recent years, multifamily construction has lagged. Costs, financing, and land are preventing better performance.
12. What are the Challenges for Rental Property Owners?
High rents and low costs are not a given. Markets change, and your renter base may not be able to keep up with rising rents.
For landlords who resist change and technology, pressures and responsibilities are mounting too.
Landlords’ biggest challenges is in daily property management including maintenance, bookkeeping, tenant management, and meeting their budget. Keeping up with advancements in technology is another challenge that pressures many. In fact, a trend to migrate from old desktop programs to more modern property management software is well underway.
Landlords must learn new ways of doing business.
Landlords are faced with these top challenges:
- earning a profit
- finding a good property management company
- finding a good online property management software
- meeting tenants demands for instant service, self-service, extra amenities, and online payments
- managing the expense and risk of modernizing old rental properties
- finding affordable prices
- managing irate tenants who can’t afford their rising rents
- late rent payments, rent defaults, and rising rate of evictions
- selling then buying better properties with sustainable ROI
- working long hours, handling too many tasks and getting them all completed
- meeting government regulations
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13. Rental Property Types
There’s no shortage of rental property types. From student housing and seniors housing, to fix and rent single family, to beachfront vacation rentals, and from studio apartments to luxury condos.
According to Rentcafe (2021), the most searched for apartments were 2 bedrooms (45%), 1 bedrooms (27%), 3 bedrooms (16%), and Studios (12%).
|Bedroom Type||Average Rent||Change M-o-M||Change Y-o-Y|
National Data Courtesy of Rentcafe.com
14. Are Renters are Getting Squeezed Too Hard?
One controversial, IMHO, is that rental housing is not being created or marketed to low-income earners. The lower-income segment simply isn’t being served. It might be said however, that governments could free up land, provide tax relief, and assist developers in building appropriate low-income housing solutions.
Such an effort may be well beyond the means of the private sector rental housing investment community in terms of cost and risk. Governments can if they choose, make it profitable for such housing to be built.
According to the Harvard report, 10.9 million renters spent more than half of their incomes on housing in 2018. In that year, the number of severely burdened households increased 155,000, reducing the total improvement since the 2014 peak to just 483,000. Cost burdened renters rose again in 2018, rising by 261,000 to 20.8 million.
They found that 72% of renters earning less than $15,000 annually were severely burdened, along with 43% who earned $15,000–29,999.
The rise in homelessness in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and other cities shows the problem is real.
15. Should I Buy Rental Property as an Investment?
In their report, PWC/ULI believe property prices will fall as buyer incomes fall in 2021 and 2022. Their survey revealed those who foresee good/excellent prospects has dropped this year.
Rents keep rising in 92% of cities, and will 2021 see the same positive circumstance for rental property investment.
From Florida to California to Hawaii, the rental market remains constrained. Although prices have flattened or fallen in many areas, the revenue potential for builders and property owners is positive.
The US rental property market is a growing chunk of the now estimated $127 Trillion global real estate market which accounts for 60% of all mainstream assets.
The rental property market is less than half of the $36+ Trillion US Real estate market, yet for small property investors, it’s a fertile paradise.
Immigrants are a big component of rental demand and the US rental market is expected to focus more on immigrant buyers in the next 12 years.
16. US Housing Construction Forecast
The housing construction market is brisk and expected to continue rising. Single-family detached and low rise condominiums are the most desired properties. The housing market needs 1.4 million new homes each year and this could increase in 2021 due to immigration.
“Though the multifamily sector is performing much better than nonresidential construction, developers are facing stiff headwinds in 2021,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Shortages and delays in obtaining building materials, rising lumber and OSB prices, labor shortages and a more ominous regulatory climate will aggravate affordability woes and delay delivery times.”
NAHB analysis of Census data reveals that 34% of total multifamily construction occurred in lower density, lower cost markets in 2020. “These areas have outpaced higher density markets over the past four quarters and we anticipate this trend will continue this year,” said Dietz in an NAHB report.
A recent report from RentCafe suggests that multi-unit construction is up 60,000 more units in January.
The US property rental market of 2023 still possesses some profitable opportunities. They key to success will be good research and sound judgement in buying rentals in the best cities.
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