Elevated rental prices are pushing apartment vacancy rates up, following a pandemic-related housing boom, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The price of apartments has risen 25% in the past two years, driven by a combination of inflation and rising demand as young workers sought to enter the rental market following the release of COVID-19 vaccines in the first half of 2021, the WSJ reported. In the third quarter, demand for apartments, as measured by one-year change in unit occupancy, is at the lowest level since 2009, and vacancies rose from 5.1% in the second quarter two to 5.5% in the third.
Apartment demand in the third quarter of 2022 dropped into the negative for the first time in 30 years as many renters have lost confidence in the market due to economic uncertainty, according to RealPage analytics.
Rental markets boomed at the start of 2022, but Q3 data shows a 1.0% increase in apartment vacancies despite a 0.2% month-over-month asking price decrease in September, RealPage reported. Weak rental numbers, despite the first month-over-month asking price drop since December 2020, point to a general economic uncertainty among renters who have adopted a “wait and see” mentality, the outlet reported.
About 18% of renters, or roughly 10 million people, in the U.S. are behind on their monthly payments as of early January, according to an Urban Institute analysis.
Researchers Jim Parrott, a fellow at the Urban Institute, and Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, calculated that 18% of U.S. renters were behind on payments and warned that if lawmakers didn’t act fast, there could be a major eviction crisis. The average delinquent renter is four months behind on payments and owes $5,600, the researchers estimated using Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.