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A new survey, Renters On The Move by Entrata, studies renters’ behavior in the landmark year of 2020. Key findings from the report state as many as 66% of renters say that renting fits their current lifestyle more than owning a home, while 33% say that the COVID-19 pandemic motivated them to buy a home and stop renting.
The top reasons Americans stated for currently renting instead of owning are mostly cost-related, with the inability to afford a down payment on a home (39%) and home ownership being too expensive (33%). Other reasons include: change in personal life (24%), uncertainty of housing market (17%), I like to move and travel around often (15%), I can’t get a mortgage (15%), I sold a home that I previously owned (12%), and I don’t want to settle down (10%).
Comparatively, last year the top reasons for moving was the cost of rent (27%), followed by needing more space (24%), needing a change of pace (18%), and the COVID-19 pandemic (16%).
Out of American renters, 22% moved to a larger apartment with more space in the last 12 months, possibly to accommodate pandemic-imposed work-from-home needs. However, contrary to mass migration out of urban centers, 20% of Gen Z renters moved from a rural/suburban area into a larger city, possibly taking advantage of lower prices caused by COVID. According to Entrata’s internal data, the average cost of rent in New York City and Houston, respectively decreased by 6.6% and 9.3% from 2019 to 2020.
Those planning to move to more urban areas are doing so because of lifestyle conveniences (dining, nightlife, etc) (49%), better job opportunities (47%), walkability (30%), it’s where friends are (27%), schools (public schools, universities, colleges, etc) (16%), and my job will require me to return to the office (15%).
Those planning to move to more suburban and rural areas cite some surprising reasons, including more space for lower costs (50%), it feels like home (38%), want lIfestyle conveniences (dining, nightlife, etc) (29%), want better job opportunities (22%), feel more connected to my neighborhood in a rural/suburban area (21%), schools (public schools, universities, colleges, etc) (14%).
Additionally, more than half (54%) of renters who moved in the last year say they experienced moving difficulties due to COVID-19. This included difficulty finding rental units in their price range (24%), family and friends being unavailable to help with moving (20%), and the inability to tour rental units (18%). However, the last point has already spurred innovation in the rental industry as they now attempt to entice renters with virtual tours.