Despite the most affordable buying market in decades, households across the country are slowly choosing rentals versus homeownership, signaling a positive economic trajectory for the multifamily sector, according to Freddie Mac's October 2011 economic outlook report, released Monday.
In the year ending June 2011, the Census Bureau reported a net increase of 1.4 million households that moved into rental housing, a 4 percent rise in the number of tenant households.
The U.S. homeownership rate fell about 1.5 percent over the past year, according to Freddie Mac's report.
Hessam Nadij, managing director of research and advisory services for Marcus & Millichap, said in the August issue of HousingWire magazine that "apartments, which are considered part of the commercial real estate sector, are well ahead of retail, office properties and industrial properties in the recovery because of the release of pent-up demand."
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More Choose to Rent, Despite Record-Low Mortgage Rates
With housing prices down and mortgage rates at all-time lows, the real estate market is ripe for investors looking to cash in on the one sector that's booming: rental demand. As a recent Move.com report suggests, college towns make the perfect fit for would-be landlords: Growing enrollment means demand for off-campus housing will only increase. Pair that stability with an expected 5% rise in rental rates, and university towns emerge as very promising real estate investment territory. Here are Move.com's 10 top towns for real estate investors.
Median List Price: $335,000
Y/Y% Change: -2.62%
Average 2 Bedroom Rent: $3,122
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $3,913
Average Mortgage: $1,370
Home to two of the top-ranked colleges in the U.S., Harvard and MIT, it hosts 48 others as well. The median list price is second highest in the rankings, while the average rental rates top all others.
Median List Price: $189,900
Y/Y% Change: -0.05%
Average 2 Bedroom Rent: $949
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $1,020
Average Mortgage: $770
Nashville encompasses 16 colleges and universities, including top-ranked Vanderbilt University. Many of the school dorms are filled to capacity, according to Move's report, forcing a significant number of students to seek off-campus housing.
Median List Price: $199,900
Y/Y% Change: -16.36%
Average 2 bedroom Rent: $1,780
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $2,074
Average Mortgage: $820
The No. 1 most searched city in the country on Realtor.com in June, Chicago hosts a number of universities including No. 12 ranked University of Chicago. The difference between mortgage and rental rates creates the potential for significant profit margins.
Median List Price: $242,700
Y/Y% Change: -7.72%
Average 2 bedroom Rent: $1,443
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $1,663
Average Mortgage: $990
Home to the No. 1 ranked university Johns Hopkins University Baltimore's median list price is fairly high on the list. But those prices are falling. In June, the city was the 19th most searched market on Realtor.com.
Median List Price: $163,945
Y/Y% Change: -3.41%
Average 2 bedroom Rent: $1,016
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $1,283
Average Mortgage: $670
St. Louis has a median list price of $163,945 and its rental rates provide generous profit margins.
Median List Price: $375,000
Y/Y% Change: 5.63%
Average 2 bedroom Rent: $3,086
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $3,214
Average Mortgage: $1,530
As Washington, D.C. further revamps its image, already pricey rental rates will continue to increase. The city hosts more than 20 colleges, including Georgetown University.
Median List Price: $159,600
Y/Y% Change: -13.68%
Average 2 bedroom Rent: $1,236
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $1,485
Average Mortgage: $650
Atlanta boasts 19 colleges, and its average two-bedroom property pulls in almost twice as much revenue as what an owner must pay in mortgage costs.
Median List Price: $174,900
Y/Y% Change: -0.06
Average 2 Bedroom Rent: $1,218
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $1,478
Average Mortgage: $710
Houston has more than 10 colleges and universities, and its low-priced inventory makes buying there a promising investment that could pay off in the future.
Median List Price: $112,900
Y/Y% Change: 7.53%
Average 2 bedroom Rent: $790
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $880
Average Mortgage: $460
South Bend has 12 colleges and universities, whose rental rates provide healthy profit margins. But perhaps the biggest draw of the place is that its home price market appears to be on the upswing, even as so many others in the country continue to limp along.
Y/Y% Change: -3.13%
Average 2 bedroom Rent: $838
Average 3+ Bedroom Rent: $970
Average Mortgage: $630
Syracuse, located in upstate New York, has a number of local colleges and universities with students who must appreciate the low rental rates there. At $154,900, its median listing price is below the national average of $189,900.