Real Estate: A Renter’s Market?

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RECENTLY OUR INVOLVEMENT IN REAL ESTATE MARKET DISCUSSIONS again witnessed the same persistent and lingering observation: Despite depressed prices, we hear a home sale in our area can be as rare as inheriting a rich uncle’s estate, which tends to contradict stories of a dwindling supply of houses to sell. Of course, sales may differ in various areas but sporadic and few sales appears to be the case in many locales, more or less.

While there are several efforts to identify the cause of slack sales, the one most curious to us is the sentiment that too many folks who otherwise would be likely potential purchasers now only seem interested in renting. Rent rather than buy? Why? Traditional thought usually gives home ownership a thumbs-up in terms of being a cornerstone for long-term financial benefit. Indeed,  many other positive aspects come with home ownership as well … for the homeowner and the community

So despite logic implying lower home prices should be spurring house purchases, not apartment rentals, for people who are looking for a home and can afford to buy. But this does not seem to be the case. Certainly negative local factors such as high property taxes, poor quality of schools, distant shopping and medical facilities all play a role.  Yet the apparent pervasiveness of the issue suggests one or more generalized causes for this circumstance, like the one we hear most frequently repeated: Lenders have become more demanding ― some may argue far more demanding ― in scrutinizing loan applications, resulting in too few approvals. In other words, loan application reviews are the polar opposite of those conducted less than ten years ago when mortgage qualification was far too easy.

To be sure, we’ve heard other theories and explanations too. Perhaps an uncertain economy produces would-be buyers who are overly cautious, which uncertainty and caution nudge them toward the transience and flexibility of renting. Or they may be extremely uncomfortable with the notion of committing to one of the biggest purchases of their lives until a nationally firm and reliable economic foothold is reestablished. Maybe they heard a horror story or two about rising costs for insurance, maintenance or property taxes. Could be they are too frightened to be tied to a mortgage and a property that could be difficult to sell in the current market, which inability to sell within a reasonable time is apt to prevent them from changing jobs or searching for one in another locale thereby reducing or eliminating their income. Then again, the lack luster economy might be pushing them to reevaluate all their financial priorities, spending habits and even lifestyle patterns, any of which just might point to a rental as a viable living arrangement that can be adjusted on relatively short notice as employment and/or other factors change.

Whatever actual perceptions or rationale exist in the market, we see housing moving with renters, not buyers. Although rentals certainly have a legitimate place in the housing arena, the need for the permanence of home ownership should not be taken lightly or shrugged off. Beyond financial considerations, home ownership has been shown to provide positive benefits for household members, a stakeholder interest in the neighborhood and a stabilizing factor to the overall community.

Consequently government and the private sector need to find cooperative methods to not only create and maintain sensible affordable housing opportunities, but also develop reasonable mortgage lending qualifications and review procedures.



Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at


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