End of the 9-Year Rental Housing Boom?

Since the Financial Crisis, the number of renters surged at a blistering pace, and renters became a majority in 42 cities, but the trend has now reversed.

The number of people living in rented housing in the US has surged by 23 million over the past 10 years. This is the period that includes the Housing Bust. But the number of people living in owner-occupied homes (“homeowners”) inched up only by 679,000.

Over the same period, the total US population has increased by 23.7 million. In other words, the growth in the renter population absorbed nearly the entire growth in the population.

In 2006, of the 100 largest cities, only 20 had a higher renter population than owner population. Ten years later, 42 cities do.

Of the top 100 cities, only three experienced a decrease in rentership rate: Anchorage, AK (-1.3%), Irving, TX (-2.5%) and Winston-Salem, NC (-3.6%). The other 97 cities all experienced an increase in rentership rates, according to a report by RentCafé, based on data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The list below shows the 25 cities where the rentership rate has increased the fastest from 2006 to 2016. Gilbert, AZ, is number one. Its rentership rate grew by 53.4%. But Gilbert is special. While the absolute number of renters in Gilbert surged over the decade, the city’s overall population experienced a spectacular boom, and the number of homeowners surged too, and the rentership rate, at 30.6%, remains the second lowest of the top 100 cities, though it grew the fastest.

By contrast, Toledo is number five on this list. In 2006, its rentership rate was 38.3%. Over the past 10 years, the rate grew by 31.3% to reach 50.3%. But Toledo’s overall population declined over the period, which helped boost the rentership rate.

The cities in the list are in order of how fast their rentership rates grew (right column). Even for number 25, Baton Rouge, the rentership rate still grew by over 22%!

City and State Renter Population 2016 Owner Population 2016 Renter Share 2016 Renter Share Growth from 2006 to 2016
1 Gilbert, AZ 72,346 164,311 30.6% 53.4%
2 Plano, TX 96,503 188,625 33.8% 40.0%
3 St. Petersburg, FL 101,539 153,457 39.8% 39.4%
4 North Las Vegas, NV 109,445 127,218 46.2% 38.5%
5 Toledo, OH 136,452 134,621 50.3% 31.3%
6 Fremont, CA 97,391 134,143 42.1% 31.0%
7 Virginia Beach, VA 165,246 276,598 37.4% 30.9%
8 Mesa, AZ 197,885 282,946 41.2% 30.1%
9 Glendale, AZ 108,691 133,269 44.9% 30.0%
10 Colorado Springs, CO 184,836 272,696 40.4% 29.2%
11 Chesapeake, VA 64,156 168,265 27.6% 28.6%
12 St. Paul, MN 140,288 153,368 47.8% 27.6%
13 Memphis, TN 360,449 275,938 56.6% 27.0%
14 Charlotte, NC 380,889 448,459 45.9% 26.9%
15 Tampa, FL 184,029 181,627 50.3% 26.8%
16 Hialeah, FL 128,135 106,234 54.7% 26.5%
17 Jacksonville, FL 366,649 492,838 42.7% 26.4%
18 Stockton, CA 160,957 139,493 53.6% 26.2%
19 Honolulu, HI 189,690 148,736 56.1% 25.7%
20 Anaheim, CA 200,424 146,001 57.9% 25.1%
21 Garland, TX 96,819 137,073 41.4% 24.7%
22 Las Vegas, NV 289,577 335,451 46.3% 24.7%
23 Irvine, CA 128,547 130,084 49.7% 23.2%
24 Chandler, AZ 93,596 153,041 37.9% 22.6%
25 Baton Rouge, LA 113,888 105,220 52.0% 22.4%

Why is New York City not in this list?

With 5.4 million renters, the City’s rentership rate is 65%. But given the gargantuan size of the rental market, even the massive increase over the past ten years of nearly 440,000 renters – more than the entire renting population in Boston – raised the rentership rate by only 4.5%.

RentCafé’s report also found that the overall population shrank in 12 of the top 100 cities. In eight of them – Toledo, Honolulu, Santa Ana, Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Chicago – the ownership population took the entire hit, while the number of renters actually increased.

In Detroit, even the renter population decreased 2%, but this was “trivial compared to the 30% setback” that the homeowner population experienced over the decade, according to RentCafé.

The table below shows the top 100 cities in order of their rentership rates (second column from the right). Note that in Newark, Jersey City, Miami, New York City, and Boston, around two-thirds or more of the population lives in rental homes. In the top 42 cities, over 50% of the population lives in rental homes.

Use the search function in your browser to find a city. After you’re finished with the table, move to the section under it where we get into why this shift has happened, where it goes from here, and what it means.

City and State Renter Population 2016 Owner Population 2016 Renter Share 2016 Renter Share Change 2006 vs. 2016
1 Newark, NJ 199,659 68,905 74.3% 3.0%
2 Jersey, NJ 184,156 77,365 70.4% 10.7%
3 Miami, FL 301,082 141,798 68.0% 9.9%
4 New York City, NY 5,441,635 2,919,054 65.1% 4.5%
5 Boston, MA 397,187 226,302 63.7% 8.7%
6 Orlando, FL 172,592 102,510 62.7% 6.9%
7 Long Beach, CA 283,183 178,350 61.4% 9.8%
8 Los Angeles, CA 2,365,634 1,525,562 60.8% 6.2%
9 Cincinnati, OH 170,480 115,623 59.6% 11.8%
10 Oakland, CA 243,423 169,939 58.9% 11.5%
11 Norfolk, VA 127,876 90,720 58.5% 12.7%
12 Washington, DC 375,005 266,396 58.5% 11.5%
13 Buffalo, NY 144,967 102,971 58.5% 9.7%
14 Richmond, VA 123,233 88,602 58.2% 9.1%
15 Anaheim, CA 200,424 146,001 57.9% 25.1%
16 Milwaukee, WI 332,579 245,681 57.5% 14.0%
17 Memphis, TN 360,449 275,938 56.6% 27.0%
18 Santa Ana, CA 186,433 142,907 56.6% 17.5%
19 Irving, TX 134,111 102,753 56.6% -2.5%
20 Atlanta, GA 247,656 192,525 56.3% 11.9%
21 San Francisco, CA 478,400 371,683 56.3% 4.2%
22 Honolulu, HI 189,690 148,736 56.1% 25.7%
23 Cleveland, OH 208,887 164,081 56.0% 16.3%
24 Columbus, OH 462,144 376,953 55.1% 17.5%
25 Hialeah, FL 128,135 106,234 54.7% 26.5%
26 Dallas, TX 711,919 589,813 54.7% 9.3%
27 San Bernardino, CA 110,871 94,581 54.0% 12.2%
28 Houston, TX 1,221,467 1,050,555 53.8% 6.6%
29 Stockton, CA 160,957 139,493 53.6% 26.2%
30 San Diego, CA 730,393 637,809 53.4% 11.4%
31 Baltimore, MD 310,975 281,290 52.5% 15.4%
32 Reno, NV 125,778 114,134 52.4% 9.7%
33 Fresno, CA 268,792 245,102 52.3% 7.6%
34 Baton Rouge, LA 113,888 105,220 52.0% 22.4%
35 Detroit, MI 342,877 316,126 52.0% 17.4%
36 St. Louis, MO 156,218 144,679 51.9% 14.6%
37 Chicago, IL 1,357,704 1,287,263 51.3% 8.5%
38 Austin, TX 475,240 451,205 51.3% 5.9%
39 Minneapolis, MN 200,748 195,277 50.7% 13.9%
40 Toledo, OH 136,452 134,621 50.3% 31.3%
41 Tampa, FL 184,029 181,627 50.3% 26.8%
42 Sacramento, CA 244,394 241,919 50.3% 11.0%
43 Irvine, CA 128,547 130,084 49.7% 23.2%
44 Durham, NC 125,652 127,119 49.7% 0.7%
45 New Orleans, LA 185,353 189,495 49.4% 5.5%
46 Pittsburgh, PA 137,349 142,279 49.1% 18.0%
47 Greensboro, NC 133,548 139,261 49.0% 11.0%
48 Tulsa, OK 193,563 203,204 48.8% 11.3%
49 Seattle, WA 330,968 350,884 48.5% 13.6%
50 Lubbock, TX 116,221 124,643 48.3% 15.7%
51 St. Paul, MN 140,288 153,368 47.80% 27.60%
52 Raleigh, NC 209,715 229,051 47.80% 9.40%
53 Denver, CO 320,149 359,158 47.10% 15.50%
54 Madison, WI 112,987 127,788 46.90% 10.70%
55 Tucson, AZ 235,305 268,609 46.70% 10.80%
56 Las Vegas, NV 289,577 335,451 46.30% 24.70%
57 North Las Vegas, NV 109,445 127,218 46.20% 38.50%
58 Phoenix, AZ 736,340 860,327 46.10% 20.40%
59 Charlotte, NC 380,889 448,459 45.90% 26.90%
60 Philadelphia, PA 695,839 822,943 45.80% 20.60%
61 Indianapolis, IN 379,418 457,115 45.40% 20.40%
62 Riverside, CA 141,022 170,416 45.30% 15.40%
63 Glendale, AZ 108,691 133,269 44.90% 30.00%
64 Winston Salem, NC 103,637 128,789 44.60% -3.60%
65 Nashville, TN 284,198 354,942 44.50% 15.70%
66 Aurora, CO 158,225 201,365 44.00% 19.10%
67 Portland, OR 270,638 352,628 43.40% 13.50%
68 Lexington, KY 131,361 174,306 43.00% 14.00%
69 Jacksonville, FL 366,649 492,838 42.70% 26.40%
70 Chula Vista, CA 113,130 151,889 42.70% 15.50%
71 San Antonio, TX 625,321 844,505 42.50% 19.70%
72 San Jose, CA 427,798 582,949 42.30% 16.00%
73 Fremont, CA 97,391 134,143 42.10% 31.00%
74 Arlington, TX 163,587 224,784 42.10% 8.80%
75 Bakersfield, CA 155,552 216,696 41.80% 9.10%
76 Corpus Christi, TX 132,344 184,925 41.70% 11.90%
77 Kansas, MI 197,052 275,292 41.70% 10.20%
78 Garland, TX 96,819 137,073 41.40% 24.70%
79 Mesa, AZ 197,885 282,946 41.20% 30.10%
80 Lincoln, NB 108,197 158,962 40.50% 19.10%
81 Colorado Springs, CO 184,836 272,696 40.40% 29.20%
82 Fort Worth, TX 339,088 501,463 40.30% 14.80%
83 El Paso, TX 269,654 405,999 39.90% 6.60%
84 St. Petersburg, FL 101,539 153,457 39.80% 39.40%
85 Omaha, NE 172,805 262,056 39.70% 8.30%
86 Louisville, KY 236,550 365,218 39.30% 21.00%
87 Oklahoma City, OK 242,811 380,720 38.90% 10.60%
88 Wichita, KS 146,271 238,393 38.00% 15.10%
89 Chandler, AZ 93,596 153,041 37.90% 22.60%
90 Virginia Beach, VA 165,246 276,598 37.40% 30.90%
91 Albuquerque, NM 206,909 346,541 37.40% 3.20%
92 Boise, ID 81,460 138,621 37.00% 9.50%
93 Anchorage, AK 106,110 184,424 36.50% -1.30%
94 Fort Wayne, IN 92,472 164,267 36.00% 11.90%
95 Henderson, NV 104,200 186,949 35.80% 16.50%
96 Laredo, TX 88,326 166,596 34.60% 1.90%
97 Plano, TX 96,503 188,625 33.80% 40.00%
98 Scottsdale, AZ 78,379 166,628 32.00% 16.70%
99 Gilbert, AZ 72,346 164,311 30.60% 53.40%
100 Chesapeake, VA 64,156 168,265 27.60% 28.60%

Why is this happening?

During the housing bust, millions of people lost their homes (or seen differently, they shed a horribly under-water mortgage that the banks, the Fed, and the US Treasury then ended up with). These folks moved into rental housing. In 2008, the population in rental housing surged by 3.1%, in 2009 by 4.4%, in 2010 by 3.4%. And it continued to rise albeit at decreasing rates through 2015. In 2016, the number of renters edged down for the first time:

The number of homeowners did the reverse. But it is now ticking up again (+0.9% in 2016).

The surge in rentership rates after the Housing Bust has been a boon for developers and landlords, and rents have rocketed higher, which triggered a phenomenal multifamily construction boom especially in large cities where apartment towers are shooting up like mushrooms. All hot housing markets have these construction booms. But just as these towers are being delivered and the apartments are being put on the market, rentership begins to edge down. Soaring supply of apartments meets declining demand for them.

Rents in some of the formerly hottest rental markets are already showing signs of declines – and in some markets, sharp declines. One special case is Seattle, where the construction boom has been nothing but fantastic, and now vacancies are rising and rents are skidding, and they’re falling the most in the Amazon neighborhood, where new supply is piling up the fastest. Read…  Once Hot Seattle Apartment Market Hit by Onslaught of Supply

Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how:

Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.

  62 comments for “End of the 9-Year Rental Housing Boom?

  1. Joan of Arc says:

    “The number of people living in rented housing in the US has surged by 23 million over the past 10 years.” – Wolf Richter

    How about an article on the 23 million or more homeless people some of whom live out of their vehicles, even with their children. Those who can’t afford vehicles might sleep on cardboard on city sidewalks. These people live rent free.

    • David Calder says:

      That’s the thing about freedom and liberty that everyone is free to sleep outside on the sidewalk but one that the wealthy choose to not to exercise.

      • Louis says:

        That is not necessarily true–sleeping on the street is illegal in many jurisdictions.

        • Michael Fiorillo says:

          That’s why author Anatole France referred to the Majesty of the Law, which prohibits both the rich and the poor from sleeping under bridges…

      • Colorado Kid says:

        Freedom to sleep outside? I bet a lot of them would love to be able to sleep inside if they could only afford it.

    • Tom T says:

      From what I have read homeless numbers are estimated to be between 3 to 4 million. I hope your figure of 23 million is wrong. As recent comments in another article by Wolf indicated and I was able to confirm, via a report generated by the St. Louis Fed, that there are 18.6 million vacant dwellings as of 2017 … that means each homeless person could have his/her choice of one of 6 houses. Is it not wonderful how this great American economy continues to provide people options and choice?

      • elysianfield says:

        Do not forget that Communism has issues with production…

        Capitalism has issues with distribution….

      • Mike G says:

        Go read Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. There’s a whole subculture of people living in vans and motorhomes, not retired people pursuing endless leisure but the poor roaming the country picking up odd jobs to survive. Amazon actively recruits them for short-term gigs at its warehouses.

        • Tom T says:

          Yes saw interview with Bruder conducted by Chris Hedges. Saw story of 83 year old living in van for five years retired factory worker, 30 yrs, and veteran. I fear we are all in for it this time.

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

      Joan – Indeed. In my area, the number of homeless seems to have doubled from a few years ago. The “recovery” (for the top 10%) had to come from somewhere; for every tech-yuppie making $100k a year, 3 working-class people making $33.3k a year have to become impoverished. That’s how it works. It’s a zero-sum game.

  2. David Calder says:

    Am I understanding this correctly that the percentage of renters is decreasing while the percentage of those taking the home ownership plunge increased by only 0.09%? Where are all of the people going? I have seen doubling up in Seattle even if against the lease and those with office space giving up their apts. to sleep on the office couch.. Many more have moved out as far as public transportation will carry them in order to find reasonable rents but this property boom is region wide so it gained them little more than a respite. If Seattle has a bubble, and it seems to me it is one for the ages, the popping will be heard globally..

    • raxadian says:

      Where are these people going you ask? Sharing someone else rent. Going to live with relatives, sleeping in cars or just ending homeless.

      • Gibbon1 says:

        Used to be in the bay area you saw a lot of homeless who had either drug or mental health issues living on the street. The reason they weren’t in housing or shelters? Drug addicts dislike shelters cause you can do drugs there. Mentally ill dislike shelters because shelters are too stressful. And section 8 housing has long waiting lists, etc.

        And a few here and there living on the street was what they preferred. ‘Long term urban camping’

        Now I see a ton of people living in vans, campers, and small buses. And a bunch of people in tents that otherwise look like they have their act together and have a day job.

        • Anonymous.1 says:

          “The reason they weren’t in housing or shelters? ”

          I am reading this thinking this person apparently thinks that people want to sleep in the rain.

          Note a Mayor’s account of shelter life for 3 days:


        • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

          From all reports, shelters are a great place to lose your shoes, any valuables, your health (try sleeping 10 inches from a guy hacking away with TB all night) and you only have scabies, hep A, etc to gain.

          A good number of homeless people are workers with jobs.

          So far, although my employer is moving to a different building, I still have a place to live, which will actually be larger in the new place. But I have a fall-back plan; a building I know of where I can rent a small office I can sleep in for $350 a month or so. If I do that I’ll probably just go back to panhandling and various street hustles because they pay better than electronics.

          Basically there are a lot of hidden homeless people out there. The obviously homeless are people who have given up or have drug/mental problems.

      • MaryR says:

        In the mid 1990’s in San Francisco, I had a friend with a large walk-in closet who set it up as a second bedroom in her older one bedroom place, renting out the main bedroom to friends or co-workers to help cover the overhead.

        So, the number of occupants was double or triple the expected level and most likely the unofficial ‘extras’ were not counted as renters. Now, you might need four or eight people to split the rent…

    • Raymond Rogers says:

      Remember, there are two sets of numbers that are being analysed. National home ownership and renters will be different numbers. As a result, a 1% change with each category will not net the same result. Your have to look at the actual numbers, do the calculations, apply the population increase factoring in the age demographics of the country.

      Doing this will most likely make you realize things are either not as bad or far worse than you thought.

  3. FDR Liberal says:


    A comparison of household formation stats under historic standards and pre-2007 and preferably 1980s when the Boomers were coming of age vis-a-vis today when Millennials are coming of age might be more insightful, particularly since the Millennial generation is larger than the Boomers.

    I would argue based upon what I oberve household formation at the owner level and for a renters for Millennials is not what it should be if one factors in household formation as 2 – 3 people under the same roof.


    • ZeroBrain says:

      Forbes can’t even get “effects” and “affects” right – I’m sure their analysis is spot on.

      • BirdBrain says:

        “Effect” is also a verb.

        Their title should read something more like “How a Lack of Income for Millennials *Fails to* Effect Household Formation” (notice my correct capitalizations vis a vis theirs).

        • ZeroBrain says:

          My statement is correct. It is also a verb, yes, and would have the wrong meaning in this case, which is why I assumed “affect” was intended. “effect” == “cause”. Lack of income REDUCES, not CAUSES household formation. I’m guessing that’s what the article said – it wouldn’t let me read it because it asks you to disable adblockers.

      • will says:

        Forbes is now 100% Paid Content.

        So I never read them and don’t care about their grammar.

      • BirdBrain says:

        You assumed incorrectly and were wrong about their usage of “affect” and “effect”. The writer (60+ years of age) was correct about its usage; he just left out “fails to” in the title.

        I am an excellent speller and love English (as well as other languages), but Petunia’s comment to someone the other day was sooo right on the money (because I am a lover of history as well):

        “If you were a truly educated person you would know that spelling was arbitrary in the English language until fairly recently in history.”

        I can’t even wrap my head around how awesome that line is!

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

      In the 1980s, there was a sort of social contract whereby if you worked, you could afford to be housed. You might be in a cheap rooming house, a cheap apartment, or a permanently moored RV in a trailer park, all living situations I had a a college student then a working-class worker in the 80s, but you were housed. Other people I knew had rooms, apartments, etc. Living in a vehicle was strange and uncommon. A young fit male might sleep in his car to avoid a long commute during the week, and my Greatest Generation neighbors might camp out very occasionally in their beloved “Alaskan” camper, but that was it. I did have one neighbor, a young male, who had 1-2 other guys generally living in his studio apartment with him but he could afford to carry the rent all on his own. And this was in Costa Mesa, California, always a relatively expensive place. I know he could afford it on his own because being a semi-useful body at an auto A/C repair place paid better than being a highly skilled electronics technician which was my own poor choice of profession.

      People who made minimum wage at the time, if they got together, could buy a house. Yeah you needed 3-4 people working together to do it, but quite often they did. A friend’s mortgage in Huntington Beach was $700-odd a month. Another friend’s condo ran her about $350 a month. I was the one paying out the nose with rents in the $400-$500 range in California (although my Hawaii rooming house rooms were $150-$170 a month).

      A lot of jobs are just gone now, like parking lot attendant. But what’s also gone is this informal social contract, that you could work just about any piddly-ass job and sleep under a roof.

  4. Rates says:

    Hei hei hei.

    The American Dream has finally come true!!!!

  5. Bobber says:

    This is a good trend. More apartments and less houses is good for the environment and leads to a less materialistic society. The trend could continue for a long time before we catch up with other countries.

  6. timbers says:

    I have a place for rent. A large number responding to my add on Craigslist are living with friends or family and I suspect would not be captured by statistic as being renters or in the “rental market” in any way in there current situation.

    Many have recently gotten jobs and so may be non-grata with staying where there are living free with friends since they just got jobs and are expected to move out. Many are separating and ending their relationships and must drastically downsize from their current living.

    Wolf has written of a so far small change that may or may not become a trend, or may or may not be blip.

    • Joan of Arc says:

      Beware of renting your place to those who live with family, they usually go sour. If they were smart they would stay with family and save money. Verify checking and savings accounts. If they only have enough for a first and last month rent and will be broke upon moving in…don’t rent to them and tell them why. Also, unexpectedly drop in at the address the applicant provides on the application to verify where they live and the living conditions. People living under via docs have cell phones and can lie about everything. Drop in at their place of employment and verify or see them working there. Call the County Treasurer to verify name of ownership of any place they say they live at or rent at. Tell anyone who says they are self employed that you require the same documents that the bank does…three years of federal tax returns sent to you as transcripts from the IRS (don’t accept their copies that they can make up). You must also ask them for an accountant’s statement of their business. Then tell them after reviewing everything you will have to make a gut call as to weather they will remain in business in the future. In other words, don’t rent to those who claim to be self employed unless they give you all documentation and bank verification of very large checking and savings deposits on hand.

      • timbers says:

        Thanks for the input, Joan.

        I’ve dodged that bullet mostly by renting to “kids” – young guys in their 20’s moving out of parents houses who bring their parents along to see the place before committing, this giving me a sense of roots and community. This protects against those on the take.

        But this time is different. I’m getting older single folks with past marriages who want their children to visit like every other weekend (ok by me). Note: this is a single family home and only the kitchen will be shared so technically it’s a “roommate” not tenant but they get the entire first floor consisting of 3 rooms and full bath so it’s more like a glorified roommate with lots of privacy – I simply have no use for all that space as I have the entire top floor.

        So yes, I will use some of your suggestions. Thanks again.

      • Tom T says:

        Joan of Arc,

        The first comment on this article, yours, suggested that you had some compassion for the homeless and understanding of the circumstances these people find themselves in.

        And then this comment you offer as advice for rental qualification of prospective tenants. Clearly you have experience in the arena, therefore it should be a fair assumption that your are a landlord, probably with multiple units.

        Do you personally visit the prospective tenant’s present living spaces, employment? Does your accountant or Private investigator collect their bank and tax info? Who goes to County authorities, IRS… what about the regional under the viaduct search?

        I am startled by the stark contrast between your two comments. As you have reason to know, RE “investors” with credit ratings that allow them to purchase housing at absurd bubble prices, which then results in amoral escalation in rent demands based on stupidity and greed, are a major contributor to homelessness. Couple this with your unconscionably intrusive methods as outlined in the advice comment, leads me to the conclusion that your first comment’s expressed “compassion” for your fellow human beings was feigned.

        Perhaps you could benefit from contemplation of the philosopher’s statement … “to thine own self be true” but I am sure you wouldn’t somehow.

        It would delight me to think that your personal RE empire might unwind and crash in the coming rapid collapse such that you find yourself “under the ‘via docs’ (sic).

        • Joan of Arc says:

          Thanks, LOL.

        • Renters are actually human says:

          Thank you for that, her 2nd comment – as you said utterly contradicting her first – just ruined an already difficult morning. Already wanting to weep every waking moment – as someone with a pristine rent payment record who just had a probable 50% rent increase announced (I’ve paid well over the original mortgage for the over a decade I’ve lived here) – I actually had a physical, pit in the stomach, reaction to her comment.

          The way this country, and its investor class, has historically treated renters is abominable. What’s most sickening is the constant lectoring by those who own property of those who buy homes they can’t really afford, when they do that because renting will quickly let you know that property owners feel that you’re an undesirable, and can utterly deteriorate any sense of equality when one has a landlord like Joan of Arc [LOL] (the arrogance in that avatar says it all) while at the same time making their living off of you.

          Amazing that a country which claims the high moral ground has never seen fit to legislate a safety net for renters – who work their entire lives at jobs which serve the investor class one way or the other – unable to afford homes, with absolutely nothing to show for the thousands of dollars invested in a roof over their head. Worse, given the utterly declining livable wage jobs amidst the AI takeover, and the millions under retirement age who lost their livings through no fault of their own, even apartments are increasingly unaffordable. Maybe one of the FEMA camps will be named Joan of Arc [LOL].

          The only good I see of the exponentially increased percentage of renters (particularly those who lost lifelong homes and now realize the degradation served up to renters), is it makes for a powerful lobby of citizens if a way were found to nationally organize them. Perhaps a new Third Party, concentrated on the right to more than temporary shelter.

        • LessonIsNeverTry says:

          Joan of Arc is (presumably) running a business. Why would Joan not do everything in their power to mitigate risk associated with that business? To meet your arbitrary concerns about “compassion”?

          Also, re-read Joan’s first comment. I think you may be projecting your compassion onto that comment. Joan’s first comment could even be read as: “What about the 23 million who are homeless and live rent-free, thus depriving my business of additional funds through increased demand?”.

        • Renters are actually human says:

          The Lesson will be:

          First they came after those who didn’t own property – despite their labors and goodwill – and the Apartment Home™ Investors Laughed Out Loud [LOL’d]™. Next they came after those who consider compassion to be arbitrary – far subservient to profit – and anyone who might have comforted them had mostly been decimated.

      • R2D2 says:

        Are you for real? Even for high paid employment if anyone asks me for such a long list of documents, I laugh at them and give them the middle finger. A landlord asking me that kind of document, will never find anyone to rent.

        • Joan of Arc says:

          Only an extra long list of documents for those who claim to be self employed. If they are employed by certifiable employers, not friends or family, then I don’t need federal income tax transcripts or accountant statements as I can get adequate employment verification from the employer. But I still need a statement of bank balances and a credit/criminal background report/check. Also, talking to the present landlord is useless. I need to talk to the prior and previous landlords who will tell me the truth. The present landlord will lie to get rid of his present bad tenets.

  7. Fact says:

    Vancouver bc peaked rental last summer…now tens of thousands of new condos are about to complete flooding the market….meanwhile lots of people moving away too expensive and no jobs unless you swing a hammer or push a broom

    • Jim Graham says:

      When the big construction boom is done many of the hammer swingers will have to move to more fertile ground or start living under the bridges – – in a very well built shack???

  8. Petunia says:

    There was an article in the NY paper about people leaving the city over rent and commuting issues. People are getting fed up with rents and voting with their feet. Three “escapees” were profiled and two rented in their new locations and one couple purchased a home in Seattle. All said they were better off financially.

    There was also a story about all the small businesses pushed out of storefronts over rent. Only to have the storefronts remain empty for years.

    I read that Seattle has over 20K new housing units in the last year. I wonder how many will remain empty.

    • Mike says:

      Petunia – was that article about people leaving NYC over home prices/rents and commuting, or about people leaving Seattle over home prices/rents and commuting?

      If you listen to the real estate show on the news radio station, it’s never been a better time to buy a home in Seattle, because the prices can only go up (?)

      I think Seattle’s future is (unfortunately) a repeat of San Francisco…. just like how Portland’s future was and is a repeat of Seattle. There’s a host of tax increases on the horizon here that is totally scary. I’m just hoping for another year of home appreciation before I bail too. Boise was looking good, except their home prices have been increasing too, perhaps from all of the escapees from Seattle.

      • Petunia says:

        It was New Yorkers leaving the city. Advertise your home in NYC/NJ when the time comes and you will sell it in no time for top dollar.

    • Cal says:

      I always wondered why landlords didn’t rent out storefronts as housing–until I read this article:


      It’s the first that fills in all the gaps about the above question and does a great job of explaining the loan economics. If anyone knows of a better one, please post a link to it as a reply.

      Not mentioned anywhere in Wolfe’s excellent as usual article is immigration. In the S.F.Bay Area, there are at least half a million illegals who occupy housing of some type. Where they to leave voluntarily or otherwise, there would be plenty of housing for working class locals and the homeless at prices that would obviously be lower through supply and demand.

  9. van_down_by_river says:

    I live in a Dodge Caravan in Seattle, the two back rows of seats fold down into the floor and I can fit a nice size mattress so I’m comfortable. I cook my meals in the office kitchen. I shower at a health club (my work pays membership fee). I make an income well above the average for the area but I can’t afford the rent so I don’t rent. None of those new units going up downtown or South Lake Union have units available for under $3000, in fact there is not really anything under $3000. There is no housing available for newcomers here. I have long said Seattle needs some decent slums or at least man-camps to improve peoples situations – this place is a disaster and a hell hole. I will try to survive another year or two and then hopefully flee, preferably to another country to find a better life. I would say the worst part of modern life in the U.S. is living alone – a home is a requirement for dating – it’s not often discussed but it’s a fact.

    • Bobber says:

      Van, you don’t need a house for a date, but you do need to get out of the van. You write like a professional, so why not rent an efficiency and write a sweet poem for a forlorn lady.

    • Mark says:

      I think you’ve got it figured out pretty well. Living in your van for a few years while pocketing that money you would have spent on rent or a mortgage payment, plus maxing out your company 401k…I bet you’re putting away $50-55k a year right there. With your frugal lifestyle and a high paying job it’s even more.

      A doctor friend of mine is also big into FIRE. He and his wife live very frugally and rent an old apartment in Seattle for maybe $1500 a month. He drives a 10 year old Honda Civic, she walks to work. They’re putting away probably $250,000 a year in index funds and aren’t planning on buying real estate (too expensive, opportunity cost too high). I bet they’ll be retired and traveling the world year-round by 40-45.

    • Glengarry Girl says:

      My husband is an executive in the IT Industry and is 80% travel. He quit his job last year and we camped full time in a trailer for 11 months. What an amazing experience. We met hundreds of people living full time in vehicles of all kinds for FREE. We now have a plan to live frugal with his contract work in different cities. When 3 children were at home we rented 11 places in 7 States, executive homes and condos as we downsized. Our plans now include living in a trailer if the weather permits outside of the city. I commend you for living in a van and not paying crazy rent. Don’t rule out a Girl that could see the wisdom in your decision. My husband is a top earner and we are planning to retire early and continue this frugal lifestyle. We’ve never been healthier or happier.

      • Some years back while I was a trucker, the money saving move was to take a job with a moving company, used to be Mayflower, and you and your wife lived out of the truck, and various motels. You did that for a couple years you had enough for a downpayment on a house.

    • Tom T says:

      I would urge you to enhance your common sense approach to life, Van, by investigating the perspectives offered by sites on You Tube identifiable under the moniker “MGTOW” …. acronym for men going their own way. Leaving this country is an excellent idea, perhaps you’ll be wise enough to delay fulfilling your requirement for female companionship until you find yourself in a society wherein your odds are much, much higher of finding someone with a soul … oh, I am so politically incorrect …

    • LessonIsNeverTry says:

      I still don’t get this…. if you make an above avg salary for Seattle and have as much in savings as you claimed in a previous comment, there is no way you can’t afford rent. You just don’t want to.

      • Mark says:

        Average 1 bedroom in a Seattle neighborhood you’d want to live in is going to run you something like $25,000-30,000/year in rent. You could buy a new car every year for that, and for some folks, they’re coming to the realization that it’s just plain not worth it.

        Dollar cost average that money into index funds and max your company 401k every year during your 20s and you’re talking about some serious coin.

  10. Max Power says:

    Some (if not most actually) of the shift we’ve witnessed from owning to renting has to do with demographics and the difference in population size between the Gen-Xers and the Millennial generations. A younger generation has a greater propensity to rent. However, now that the Millennials, who are a larger demographic cohort than the generation which preceded it start moving later into their thirties they are exhibiting a natural shift towards buying as opposed to renting. This helps explain the tipping point point were seening in the buying vs. renting breakdown in the US.

  11. How much does AirBnB affect this number? If you have a part time rental does it count as full time. San Diego added an additional homeless TENT structure downtown, costs 65M to run that for 7 months. Does subsidized (HUD) housing count, since most homeless (sans mentally ill and drug problems) find their way to subsidized housing eventually. To my thinking additional new home buyers less fewer renters equals newly homeless or living in government housing.

  12. Keith says:

    Question I have, are people in assisted living counted as renters? Until recently, I had worked in that industry in FL and TX, and some of those cities also had an increase in those ALF and nursing homes.

  13. michael Engel says:

    Renter population vs owner population is misleading.
    Should be : rental units vs owners units.
    Owner tend to be families. The average family size is > 3
    Renters biggest portion are single people.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Single-family houses, purchased out of foreclosure by the hundreds of thousands and then put on the rental market, have been the hottest trend since the Financial Crisis. Several of the largest newly printed landlords in this game own over 40,000 each of these houses. You can now buy shares in their REITs since they have gone public. And you can buy rent-backed securities, where these companies have financialized future income streams from the rents and diversified their risks. This is a HUGE business.

  14. R2D2 says:

    All I can say is that in the South Bay Area, about 18 month ago you would have had to pay at least $1700 for any reasonably decent studio, and now you can have 1 bedrooms for $1500. As for as 2 bedrooms, the building that I live in has been having posting on Craigslist and giving one month free bonus, they still can’t all their 2 bedrooms occupied, and people keep leaving now. Every week someone is living. And apartments across the street which are much move expensive apartments are changing hands every six month. It’s just a matter of time for most landlords to have to drop the rent by far bigger margins to get them occupied.

  15. NBM says:

    “People who made minimum wage at the time, if they got together, could buy a house. Yeah you needed 3-4 people working together to do it, but quite often they did.”

    Yeah, as i recall the comet cult [hale bop?] people were living in some nice digs down in San Diego. 20 min wage workers living in a mansion….it’s doable if they have been stripped of personalities & egos and are willing to live in dorm arrangements.

  16. tony says:

    Love all these new projects for the homeless, i can remenber the projects in the bronx in the 1950’s after 6 months animals could not live in them.

  17. Dallas Renter says:

    I’m in Dallas and single. Part of the problem is that homebuilders will not build smaller homes. They make more money building larger houses. So the minimum cost to buy a house is around $300K.

    I often fantasize about leaving the rate race and renting a camper of some sort. I can rent a house for only slightly more than an apartment. The era of cheap apartments is gone. A 2 bedroom apartment is around $1,700. That is not a luxury apartment either. It is hard to avoid the crack heads. I paid $1,600 a month for an apartment and had a meth smoker move in upstairs. I pay $1,800 now for a 3 bedroom house.

  18. Shawn says:

    The numbers for San Francisco do not make sense.
    21 San Francisco, CA 478,400 371,683 56.3% 4.2%


    Owner-occupied housing unit rate, 2012-2016 36.8%
    Which means renter population should be at most 64.2%.


    Housing units, July 1, 2016, (V2016) 392,795
    Housing units, April 1, 2010 376,942
    Owner-occupied housing unit rate, 2012-2016 36.8%
    Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2012-2016 $858,800
    Median selected monthly owner costs -with a mortgage, 2012-2016 $3,217
    Median selected monthly owner costs -without a mortgage, 2012-2016 $585
    Median gross rent, 2012-2016 $1,632
    Building permits, 2016 4,087

  19. Matias says:

    @Wolf, if rates rise dramatically, would that increase the likelihood of this being merely a dip, rather than the end of the boom?

Comments are closed.