by Leonard Steinberg
|Many parts around the US are experiencing massive surges in rent prices, well above the average rate of inflation. A new report shows that rents rose in 96% of 252 housing markets. In most parts the natural forces of free markets are at work: when there are 10 renters for one apartment, you can be certain over-bidding will occur. |
Housing represents about 40% of CPI, so what happens in home pricing matters….lots! Nationally, average apartment rents rose 9.4% in the second quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter in 2021. While that is high by historical standards, it is down from the more than 11% annual increases seen the previous two quarters, and there is an expectation that these increases will moderate to around 6.2% higher than 2021 for the year. Costar is projecting a 4.9% increase for 2023. If rents continue to rise at 4%, $2,500/month rent today could be $3,700/m a decade from now.
In many areas where people moved after the pandemic for a more affordable lifestyle, rents rose even more, making these areas a lot less affordable than imagined when you consider the average American spends over 30% of their income on rent. 80% of municipalities saw the average rent increase by 10% or more. Miami had the biggest increase in average rent, rising 59%. Rents are up 31% in Tempe, Arizona, 21% in San Diego, and 30% in Austin. However, rents have also risen in areas that have always had high rents: New York, Boston, Los Angeles.
Why do rents rise?1. An imbalance between supply and demand.2. More people focused on renting rather than buying, mostly because of affordability and availability of for sale homes.3. Rising operational and labor costs for landlords, including rising real estate taxes.4. Because people are willing to pay the price.5. Aging housing stock that requires massive renovation and upgrades.6. Fear of buying/committing to a purchase.
While rent hyperinflation can be great for landlords, some downsides are: 1. A pro-forma based on exaggerated high rental returns can run into trouble when markets turn. Already banks have started to discount the more over-exuberant expectations.2. Those who draw capital from properties producing high returns right now could run into trouble if rents subside or vacancies emerge.3. Governments come under greater pressure from voters to implement laws around rent control and stabilization. Penalties for vacant properties are also possible.4. When people spend too much on rent, they don’t have money left to spend on other things and this can lead to recession.5. When rents soar, fees come under attack…..including agent fees!
Most extremes don’t end well. Yes, some rental properties were under-valued in areas where new demand seems long term, but most seem very, very frothy.