Rent Is Higher Than Ever in Most US Metro Areas

Photo (cc) by Phil Sexton

Renting is now more costly than ever in 88 of the country’s 100 largest real estate markets, a new report from Zillow says. That means trouble for potential first-time homebuyers, who are finding it more difficult to save a down payment to get their own place.

And that’s a shame, because right now homes are more affordable to buy in 94 of the top 100 metropolitan areas compared with historic averages.

The Zillow report said:

“The affordability of for-sale homes remains strong, which is encouraging for those buyers that can save for a down payment and capitalize on low mortgage interest rates. But the health of the for-sale market is directly tied to the rental market, where affordability is really suffering,” said Zillow chief economist Dr. Stan Humphries.

While home values nosedived during the recession, rents just kept climbing. Pre-bubble, renters paid 24.9 percent of their income for rent. Now they pay 29.5 percent.

“Due to low mortgages rates and housing affordability, homeowners at the end of the second quarter only have to expect to pay 15.3 percent of their income to a mortgage, significantly below the pre-bubble days of 22.1 percent,” HousingWire said.

The median annual income for homeowners is $65,514, but only $31,888 for those who rent, Zillow says.

U.S. home values rose about 6.5 percent from July 2013 to July 2014, when the median price was $174,800. Rents increased about 2.8 percent during that same period, to a median of $1,318 per month.

“As rents keep rising, along with interest rates and home values, saving for a down payment and attaining homeownership becomes that much more difficult for millions of current renters, particularly millennial renters already saddled with uncertain job prospects and enormous student debt,” Humphries said in a Zillow press release.

Buying a home will become less affordable as time goes on. Zillow says:

Mortgage rates are expected to rise in the coming year. When mortgage rates hit 5 percent, still very low by historical standards, the number of unaffordable metros for homeowners among the top 100 will more than double, to 13. At 6 percent mortgage interest rates, the number of unaffordable metros will almost double again, to 24.

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