Consumer Research | October 17, 2018
New research by Freddie Mac Multifamily finds a large and growing segment of renters continue to believe renting is a more affordable option than owning, even as many of those same renters are feeling the squeeze of rising housing costs. The latest "Profile of Today's Renter" reveals that all generations of renters continue to perceive renting as the more affordable housing choice and remain satisfied with their current situation.
According to the survey, 78 percent of renters believe renting is more affordable than owning – up a stunning 11 points from just six months ago in February 2018. This is the case even as the majority of renters (66 percent) reported difficulty affording their rent at some point over the past two years. The survey found nearly 9 in 10 renters employed in the essential workforce, such as healthcare and education, had significant difficulty affording the rent over the past two years.
While perceptions of affordability over owning increased by 11 points to 78 percent among all renters, the survey found this was evident across generations. In fact, millennials (up 14 points to 75 percent), Generation Xers (up 11 points to 78 percent) and baby boomers (up eight points to 81 percent) all saw marked increases in the perception that renting is more affordable than owning.
The survey also indicates that a significant number or renters – 66 percent – reported having trouble affording their monthly rent in the last two years – significantly more than the 43 percent of homeowners who experienced similar difficulties. More than half of renters say these changes affected spending on food, utilities and other essentials (51 percent) – as well as savings (50 percent) and nonessential items (64 percent). For renters living in rural areas, the impacts were particularly stark, with 77 percent spending less on essential items versus 59 percent in urban and suburban areas. While a majority of renters across generations reported these difficulties, older millennials (aged 28-37) reported the greatest hardship, with 79 percent reporting trouble affording rent over the past two years.
As noted earlier, renters employed in the essential workforce – such as the healthcare and education sectors – had significant additional difficulty affording rent, with a staggering 88 percent reporting hardship affording rent over the past two years. This is compared with 65 percent of all other workforce renters and 61 percent of homeowners in the essential workforce. Approximately half (48 percent) of renters working in essential jobs believe it is difficult to find housing that is affordable close to where they work – compared to 39 percent of homeowners in the essential workforce.
A consistent number of renters – 63 percent – continue to express their satisfaction with their rental experience. In fact, 58 percent of renters believe that renting is a good choice for them now and do not have plans to buy a home at this time – up from 54 percent in February. Over the last three years there has been a gradual increase in the number of renters who are not interested in buying. This quarter shows a small increase in this trend, with 23 percent of renters reporting they have no interest in buying a home – up from 20 percent in February. In addition, 42 percent of baby boomers have expressed no interest in owning a home.
A total of 66 percent of renters plan to continue renting for their next residence – up 11 points from February. Consistent with this view, fewer renters (41 percent) believe buying a home will be equally or more affordable in the next 12 months – down from 46 percent in February.
Freddie Mac's custom renter research is based on a survey conducted online between August 13-15 among 4,040 adults aged 18 and over, including 1,059 renters, by Harris Poll, on behalf of Freddie Mac, via its QuickQuery omnibus product. The previous survey was conducted between January 30-February 1, 2018 among 4,115 adults and 1,209 renters using the same methodology.
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