Apr-23: The U.S. Rental Market

13 Apr 2023


Actions by the Federal Reserve to slow the economy have led to the weekly 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) on Apr 6, 2023, to end at​​ 6.28%.​​ This is an increase of 321 bps since the end of Nov-21 when it was 3.07%. Concurrently, the year-over-year home price gains through Feb-23 for the 20 CBSAs tracked by this report (the CHTR 20-city index) have slowed down by 25 bps to 4.48%.​​ 


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How long does it take for home price declines to filter into the rental market. This is an important question because rents filter into the CPI calculations and there is evidence that growth in rents on SFR detached properties appears to be a leading indicator of CPI-Shelter. The year-over-year growth in rents for 3-bedroom detached properties is 4.31% which suggests the shelter cost of CPI is not going to fall below 4.00 percent anytime soon.​​ 


We also see in column 9 that YOY growth in rental rates on apartments in multi-unit structures is still positive and grew at a slightly faster rate in Feb-23 (4.97% vs 5.43% last month). To get a micro-sense of how rents are changing with prices, Chart 1 shows both the month-over-month increases in home prices (HPA) and in rental rates (RRA) as of Feb-23 for our 20 CBSAs.



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The chart shows that, across CBSAs, RRA does not move in-step with HPA. As we move from left to right. The clear bars with a horizontal line (RRAapt) are small, but positive values. The dotted bars show the substantial one-month declines in HPA across almost all CBSAs. The red bars show the significant declines in rental rates for 3-bedroom property and the much slower decline for rents apartments in multi-unit buildings (which have turned​​ upwards again and are rising). Higher mortgage rates are deflating the home price bubble, but not the rent bubble. It is important to note:


  • Vacancy rates are low, despite the increased purchases of homes.

  • Landlords have pricing power.

  • Apartment renters might have low incomes and weak credit and may have no other choices but to pay higher rents.​​ 


Individual CBSA rental markets:

Although rents are both rising and declining (depending on the CBSA), these still high appreciation of rental rate may continue. It depends, in part, whether renters can afford these increases and on the ability of landlords to increase rents in order to offset rising purchases prices for homes. The rule of thumb is that a household should allocate about 30 percent of income to shelter. To partially answer this question, we show four additional charts below. The first (Chart 2) is for three-bedroom detached properties and the second (Chart 3) is data for apartment rental (all unit sizes) in multi-unit buildings.​​ 

Chart 2 shows that in major CBSAs, like Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Miami, FL and San Francisco, CA renters are willing to allocate more than 60 percent of their income to renting a three-bedroom property.​​ 








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