Home renting is at a 50-year high, report finds

by Claire Fountas

Due to lingering effects of the 2008 housing crisis, renting has become a widely popular option for those hoping to combine an independent lifestyle with affordability. In fact, more Americans are actually renting a home than at any point since at least 1965, according to a Pew Research Center report based on recent Census Bureau housing data.

While the number of U.S. households jumped 7.6 million from 2006 to 2016, the amount of homes owned rather than rented actually remained flat. In turn, the amount of households choosing to rent out their space rose from 31.2 percent in 2006 to 36.6 percent in 2016, according to the report. This nearly reaches the all-time high set in 1965 of exactly 37 percent.

While renting has historically been more common for nonwhites and young adults, the trend has been increasing all across the board. More whites and middle aged adults are renting than ever before, arguably due to financial reasons more than anything. Many Americans — both renters and owners alike — believe it’s currently a sellers market and therefore not a great time to make a purchase. The recent nationwide spike in median home values paired with rising competition doesn’t help justify buying a home either.

While rental rates have increased among many groups, young adults — younger than 35, according to the report — continue to rent more than any other age group. Millennials often want to leave their childhood home, but they don’t necessarily have the means to buy their own place just yet. In fact, many of them don’t want to at all — recent trends such as the decline of the McMansion and the surge of millennials living in cities indicate Generation Y finds other factors more important than square footage.

Though renting continues to grow more popular, it doesn’t necessarily mean these renters will put off buying a home forever. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 72 percent of current renters reported hoping to purchase a home for themselves one day. Approximately two-thirds of respondents in the same survey said they rent due to individual circumstances, while only 32 percent said they rent as a matter of choice.

Significant growth in the number and share of households renting their home since 2006