More Home Owners Turning to Renting

February 21, 2012

As national and Chicago real estate values continue to fall, more people are choosing to rent over owning a home.

As a result, apartment vacancies have fallen to their lowest point in 10 years. The higher demand for apartment housing equates to increased rental costs.

In response to this trend, Chicago-based Apartments.com conducted a national survey of more than 3,000 of its January website visitors to find out their moving plans for 2012.

What they found is that an astonishing 33.6 percent of participants looking for an apartment this year were previous homeowners. That’s up from 20.5 percent in 2011. When asked why, the No. 1 reason was financially based.

The five most popular reasons why Apartments.com visitors are choosing to rent versus own in 2012:

1. Renting is a more affordable option: 26.3 percent

2. Flexibility to live where I choose: 21.2 percent

3. To relocate for employment: 20.5 percent

4. Cannot afford to keep up with homeownership expenses: 10.5 percent

5. Lost home due to foreclosure and change in marital status: less than 4 percent each.

“The fact that more renters are entering the market continues to create a series of challenges for the potential renter, including fewer apartments to choose from, which can drive higher rent rates,” said Chris Brown, vice president of product management, Apartments.com.

“It’s more important than ever for apartment seekers to be informed and savvy shoppers by utilizing all the online resources available to search for apartments within their budget.”

Apartments.com offers three tips for finding a good place to rent:

*Identify “Need to Have” Versus “Nice to Have” Amenities: Before beginning an apartment search, figure out which features and amenities you must have and which ones would just be nice. The latter could drive up the cost of the rental unit.

*Budget Wisely: Experts suggest your rental costs should not exceed 25-30 percent of your annual wages. Take a look at income after taxes and subtract expenses. Include food, car payment, credit card and entertainment expenses. Whatever is left is what apartment shoppers can afford for their new place, including utilities.

*Inspect an Apartment: Why would anyone rent an apartment without seeing it first? Because tons of information is now available online, including apartment photos and videos. But a live tour is essential.

During a tour of an apartment:

*Check safety fixtures, like smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors, and make sure they are working properly.

*Test faucets, toilets and other pipes under cabinets for leaks in plumbing.

*Run your hand along the outside of the window and check for drafts.

If there are any items that need to be repaired or replaced, make sure these are addressed before you sign a lease.

For more information and apartment-hunting tips, visit Apartments.com.

Categories: Apartments, Economy

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