Rental Data Now in High Demand

FEB 15, 2013 11:02am ET

Even as home prices have begun to increase throughout the country and it appears the housing industry is in a recovery mode, there is still reluctance among many individuals to make long-term investments into buying a home.

According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. homeownership rate was relatively stable during 2012 and ended the fourth quarter at 65.4%, down from 66% a year ago.

However, since 2004, annual homeownership rates have been on a steady decline nationwide falling approximately 3%.

Additionally, a Trulia survey conducted at the end of last year also revealed that fewer consumers now believe homeownership is part of their personal American dream. Out of 2,083 adults that were surveyed, only 72% still believe in owning a home as of November 2012. This remains below February 2009 and January 2010 figures, when 76% and 77%, respectively, agreed with this sentiment.

All of this data is encouraging news for Westminster, Colo.-based RentRange. The firm provides rental rate estimates for specific addresses, ZIP codes and cities as well as rental rate historical trends, property and metropolitan statistical area vacancy rates, and rental price per square foot data.

“Rental data and rental market metrics is a pretty hot topic right now,” said Wally Charnoff, CEO of RentRange in an interview. “It’s been really easy for us to get an audience with people over the last 18 months.”

At previous Mortgage Bankers Association conferences, Charnoff said he has been overwhelmed with back-to-back-to-back meetings due to rental demand. Therefore, instead of only having three representatives at this year’s National Mortgage Servicing Conference, RentRange will have either five or six employees available to speak to prospective clients about the rental market.

With more employees coming to Dallas this time around, Charnoff said he is excited to finally have an opportunity to attend some of the sessions.

“I like hearing the interpretations of what’s going on in the industry from other people, particularly the major players’ thoughts of the market,” Charnoff told this publication. “It was bittersweet to not be able to listen to the presentations at prior shows, but at the same time, I’m excited that our product is in such high demand.”

Charnoff provided Mortgage Servicing News with the latest rental data for Dallas.

According to RentRange, through December 2012, the median price for a one-bedroom single-family rental unit is $868, only $6 more than the same time period last year. Meanwhile, the average value for a two-bedroom unit was $1,257, a $20 increase on an annual basis.

However, larger properties that are being rented out saw their median prices drop year-over-year. For example, a three-bedroom unit fell $87 to 1,140, while a four bedroom asset was approximately $1,398, a yearly decline of $93.

Still, the Trulia survey found that the vast majority of Americans in the 18 to 34 age bracket will eventually purchase their own home sometime in the future, but it will likely not be within the next two years. Furthermore, for the entire survey population, 31% of renters said they plan to buy a home in the next two years, compared with 28% in May and 22% for January 2011.

Overall, Charnoff said he is excited that this year’s servicing show is taking place in Dallas again because RentRange has many clients based there.

“We have many partners in Dallas and I am able to get a lot of business done while I’m there,” Charnoff noted. “Dallas is an important city for the mortgage and servicing industry, and it’s an efficient place for us to make progress both policy wise and business wise.”