So, most of the major news sources have put the news out there by now—the median net worth of middle class families plunged by 39 percent in just three years.
The Fed used a hypothetical family with $126,400 in 2007 to prove that point. In 2010, that same family’s net worth dropped to $77,300. Median family income also fell—from $49,600 in 2007 to $45,800 in 2010. The number comes from the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances, due out this coming Monday.
These big swings in savings and income obviously have ripple effects throughout the housing community, but the commentary from respondents could be even more telling. “More families said they were saving money as a precautionary measure, to make sure they had enough liquidity to meet short-term needs. Fewer said they were saving for retirement, or for education, or for a down payment on a home,” according to the New York Times and CNBC. 

With fewer people saving for a down payment on a house, it would make sense that these folks will be staying in rentals longer. That of course plays well into the “Renter Nation” theme coming from the apartment industry. 
But most of the net worth these families lost was in the declining value of their homes—meaning many of them are already home owners and, if they haven’t lost their homes to foreclosure, they’re probably staying put.

It’s just a hunch but I think the big impact for the rental industry could ultimately be in the Gen Y cohort. The parents of these Gen Y-ers, seeing a huge amount of their net worth swallowed up in their home, may be less likely to help out with that all-important first down payment for a home. That means Gen Y could be renting a little longer than they expected.