US rental market returns to usual activity

US rental market returns to usual activity

The first half of this year saw a surge in activity on the US rental market. The nation’s 30 largest cities all experienced a sharp increase in applications with two population groups leading the rise in interest. Specifically, Generation Z and those with incomes in excess of US$100,000 a year were behind the uptick. 

Return to pre-pandemic levels

Activity within the US rental market has been so intense so far this year that levels have returned to those last registered in 2019. According to a study by RentCafé, rental applications rose by 13% in the first half of this year compared to 2020. 

The market saw particularly intense activity in March, a month that experienced a 45% increase on February. March figures were also considerably higher than those seen pre-pandemic when they reached around 23%. 

Return to the big cities

While during the pandemic, housing trends meant that suburban locations were more popular, those in 2021 show that renters are returning to the big cities. Rental activity has risen by double figures this year in all of the 30 largest cities in the US. 

New York City saw the highest hike of all - rental applications in the Big Apple more than  doubled between January and June this year. Those in San Francisco went up by 105% while those in Seattle increased by 69%. 

The largest Florida city in the report, Jacksonville had a 21% increase in rentals in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2020. 

Biggest takers in US rental markets

According to the survey, two demographics are driving the surge in rental applications: Generation Z and high-income tenants. Many Gen Z applicants (born between 1997 and 2012) were looking for their first rental home. As a result, applications in this age group rose by 39% in the first six months of 2021. In comparison, the increase in other age groups was around 10%. 

In terms of income, the biggest surge in applications came from those at the higher end of the earning brackets. The increase among tenants with salaries in excess of US$100,000 was 34%, reflecting their desire to take up rental deals on luxury apartments. The highly competitive property market may also be a factor behind their decision to delay purchasing a home. 

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