Although rents have moderated in most U.S. metros, a new report from Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), and University of Alabama (UA) suggests that renters are still being priced out of the market.
While only two of the 100 largest metros in the U.S. saw double-digit year-over-year increases in May, Madison, Wisconsin, at 11.27% and Charleston, South Carolina, at 10.39%, just one metro, Las Vegas, saw a year-over-year rent decrease at 1.42%, according to the Waller, Weeks and Johnson Rental Index.
“Clearly, the nation as a whole is returning to more normal rent increases. But this does not mean that the rental crisis is over just yet,” says Ken H. Johnson, Ph.D., an economist in FAU’s College of Business. “The level of rents is now much higher, and household income has yet to catch up. I think we have moved from a rental crisis into a prolonged affordability crisis.”
Researchers Shelton Weeks, Ph.D., of FGCU, and Bernie Waller, Ph.D., of the UA, along with Johnson, estimate where average rent should be for a market and then compare that with where actual average rent is and then compute a premium or discount using past leasing data from Zillow’s Observed Rent Index. Year-over-year and month-over-month increases, as well as a rent-burdened metric, are also estimated in the monthly report of the nation’s 100 largest metros.
According to May’s report, markets are still largely overvalued or renting at a premium. Nationally, the average renter paid an 8.11% premium for rent.
“Eight of the top 10 most overpriced rental markets are in Sun Belt states. This is not surprising given the demographic shifts that are going on around the country and the slow development of new inventory in these states,” Waller says.
Knoxville, Tennessee, is currently the most overvalued market in the country with renters paying a 17.95% premium. Renters are also paying high premiums in Cape Coral, Florida, 17.66%; El Paso, Texas, 15.91%; Miami, 15.44%; Albuquerque, New Mexico, 14.76%; and North Port, Florida, 14.12%.
Research found the average renter needs a six-figure salary in at least 11 metro areas (San Jose, California; New York; San Francisco; San Diego; Boston; Oxnard, California; Los Angeles; Miami; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Honolulu; and Riverside, California) to avoid being cost burdened, devoting more than 30% of their income to housing.
“The issue of affordability is probably going to become the big question going forward,” Weeks says. “Until we see significantly more production of new rental inventory and average household annual income increases, we will be talking about affordable housing.”