Single Family Housing Rent Upticks 2.9 Percent Annually in U.S.

Single Family Housing Rent Upticks 2.9 Percent Annually in U.S.

Residential News » Washington D.C. Edition | By Michael Gerrity | March 20, 2020 9:04 AM ET

Based on CoreLogic's latest Single-Family Rent Index for January 2020, national rent increase of 2.9% year over year, down slightly from a 3.2% year-over-year increase in January 2019. Rent prices are now increasing at double the rate of inflation, presenting affordability challenges among current and prospective renters.

Low rental home inventory, relative to demand, fuels the growth of single-family rent prices. The SFRI shows single-family rent prices have climbed between 2010 and 2019. However, overall year-over-year rent price increases have slowed since February 2016, when they peaked at 4.2%, and have stabilized at around 3% over the past year. 

Low-end rentals propped up national rent growth in January, which has been an ongoing trend since May 2014. Rent prices among this tier, defined as properties with rent prices less than 75% of the regional median, increased 3.5% year over year in January 2020, down from a gain of 3.9% in January 2019. Meanwhile, high-end rentals, defined as properties with rent prices greater than 125% of a region's median rent, increased 2.6% in January 2020, down from a gain of 2.9% in January 2019.

Among the 20 metro areas shown in Table 1, and for the 14th consecutive month, Phoenix had the highest year-over-year increase in single-family rents in January 2020 at 6.4% (compared to January 2019). Tucson, Arizona experienced the second-highest rent price growth in January 2020 with gains of 5.2%, followed closely by Las Vegas at 4.9%. Honolulu experienced the lowest rent increases out of all analyzed metros at 0.6%.

Metro areas with limited new construction, low rental vacancies and strong local economies that attract new employees tend to have stronger rent growth. Phoenix experienced the highest year-over-year rent growth in January 2020, driven by annual employment growth of 3.2%. Austin, Texas experienced a 3.6% employment growth, which played a role in its above-average rent growth of 3.4% in January. This is compared with the national employment growth average of 1.5%, according to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The single-family rental market benefited from low unemployment rates over the past year, resulting in an increase in rental demand," said Molly Boesel, principal economist at CoreLogic. "However, rents are increasing at about double the rate of inflation, which has negatively impacted affordability."

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