Market insights
March 21, 2024

American Rental Homes: Trends Shaping Lives & Leases

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The real estate game in the US is changing, and the rental scene is no exception. Several key trends are shaping the way Americans live, work, and choose their housing options. Staying on top of these trends will help real estate professionals better serve their client’s unique needs, and savvy investors can find the special touches that will drive the value of their properties. Let's dive into what’s shaking things up for both renters and landlords.

1. Working from Anywhere:

Thanks to the whole remote work revolution (did someone say “pandemic”?), more people are ditching the city hustle for the suburbs or even the boonies. According to Forbes, almost 13% of US workers are fully remote, and 28% are on a hybrid model. This has driven up demand for rental homes in quieter spots as people look for roomier places to call home. This drives up demand in the suburbs and even in destination markets where remote workers can enjoy an improved quality of life.

2. Tech Magic:

The property world is getting a tech makeover. Say hello to online property management tools, virtual tours, and digital lease signings. Owning a place and managing from afar? It has never been easier, thanks to these great new innovations.

3. Generations on the Move:

Millennials and Gen Z are the new big shots in the rental game. They're all about flexibility, cool vibes, and the freedom to pick up and go for new job opportunities. So, rental spots with modern perks, sustainability features, and a sense of community are high on their list.

4. Green Living:

Sustainability is the new black. Renters want eco-friendly homes with solar panels, energy-efficient gadgets, and smart home gizmos. It's not just a trend—it's a lifestyle choice. Identifying properties that offer these features, or upgrading to include them, increases demand for that property - and the rent it will carry.

5. Costs on the Rise:

Buying a home is getting crazily expensive, and affordable housing is like a rare unicorn. As of late 2023, the median monthly cost of owning a new home is 52% higher than the average rent payment, according to data from CBRE. Many potential buyers are shutting down their home search and turning to renting. This increased demand for rental housing, especially when coupled with remote work, creates opportunities for profitable rentals on the fringes of major markets.

6. Flexible Rental Term:

Forget the old-school 12-month leases. For some, flexibility is the name of the game now. Short-term deals, month-to-month setups, and even cool co-living spaces are on the rise. Investors with rental properties who can adapt to these types of arrangements are in higher demand, and can even get away with higher rents in exchange for allowing this flexibility.

7. Property Play:

Real estate is still the cool kid on the investment block. People are diving into rental property investments like it's the hottest trend. In early 2022, 28% of home sales were to investors buying single-family homes. Last year that number passed 30% according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Massive hedge funds are even getting in on the action. Though it is worth mentioning that it makes the competition for rental properties tougher. 

Bottom line:

The rental scene in the US in 2024 is in for an interesting ride. Whether it's the work-from-anywhere lifestyle, the tech takeover, or the sustainability craze, these trends are setting the pace in the US rental market. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for navigating the rental market successfully. Additionally, delving into macroeconomic factors impacting demand and pricing trends in the broader housing market can provide valuable insights for informed decision-making. Stay informed, stay ahead, and embrace the evolving landscape of the rental housing market.

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