Harvard Rent Too High

At its simplest, the new blockbuster study on rentals from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard , America’s Rental Housing; Evolving Markets and Needs, reads like an exercise in real estate economics. America has too many renters and not enough rental units, driving up rental rates until more than half of all renters, or 21.1 million, are spending more than 30 percent of income for housing.

Of course, the reality isn’t nearly so easy to discern.

While the study, like others before it from the Joint Center, focuses on affordability and most of the considerable news coverage in generated last week focused on the growing crisis in housing affordability among lower income Americans, it also excellently described the changing face of renting in America.

Many, if not most, of those changes are the result of the most important single development in housing over the past decade: the ascendancy of single family rentals from the conversion of 4 million foreclosures.

Single family rentals provide more options. “Preferences for location and type of housing depend on renter household type. Non-family households, including roommate situations that are more common among the young, are more likely to live in multifamily housing in central cities. As they move into the childrearing phase of life, renters tend to prefer single-family homes in suburban or rural locations. In fact, married couples with children choose single-family rentals more than any other housing type. Single persons, many of which are seniors, are more likely to live in central cities and the most likely of all renters to live in multifamily structures,” the study found.

The Growth of Single Family Rentals

In recent years, single family rentals have been the most important source to be rental …read more