A recent study revealed that while rental housing opportunities are on the rise for 11 of the country's most congested cities, tenants struggle to pay the expensive rent, and the decrease in vacancy rates has been frequent.
The research, conducted by New York University's Furman Center, which specializes on urban policies and real estate studies, examined the U.S. Census Bureau rental housing market data starting 2006 until 2013 for the 11 most crowded U.S. metropolitan cities. These include New York, Atlanta, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and San Francisco.
In 2013, a minimum of 60 percent of the Americans residing in the 11 cities were tenants and their total number increased from 31 percent in 2006 to 35 percent, according to the study funded by the bank Capital One, a leading lender for affordable houses.
Experts pointed out that affordability of the housing rents in all 11 cities slumped in the last nine years, but not all cities share the same challenges, and each city had its particularities. American tenants' choices are quite "limited" now, according to Laura Bailey, Capital One community financial chief.
Analysts believe that the house downsizing of an aging population, student loans, and the 2008 financial crisis caused the increase in rental costs. Furman researchers explained that the financial crisis forced most Americans out of their houses, so many of them resorted to unfavorable debts.
Meanwhile, experts warn as Americans pay expensive rental charges, tenants will have minimal room for savings toward house ownership, and it becomes a "reinforcing cycle." Researchers also discovered that many students opt to rent a house rather than purchase one because of existing college debts.
Additionally, the research showed that rent payments exceeded inflation due to a low supply and high demand. In Washington, rent costs shot up by 21 percent since 2006, leading to $1,307 every month in 2013. In New York, rent increased by 12 percent, equivalent to $1,228 per month. The figures include utilities and are inflation-adjusted for 2013 dollars.
Housing costs that exceed 29 percent of a family's income are classified as "burdening" for that family, and if it exceeds 49 percent, then it is defined as "severely burdening," according to experts.
With this classification, San Francisco had 45 percent of tenants that were burdened by their rental costs, while in Miami nearly 70 percent of renters qualified as burdened.
Vacancy rates have also dropped except for Atlanta, which has almost a 10 percent vacancy rate. In 2006, the city with the lowest vacancy rate was New York at 3.8 percent. However, seven years later, San Francisco overtook New York for the title of tightest rental market, with a 2.5 percent vacancy rate. Boston and Los Angeles coped well with around 3.5 percent.
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