Renting in Modern Atlanta

atlanta-juneteenth_article_story_mainJust like in the rest of the country, residential real estate in Atlanta is changing quickly as many people, especially those often-cited Millennials, move into more urban and metro areas seeking not just jobs but also all the excitement that living in a more densely populated area often brings. As a city with one of the highest rates of renters vs homeowners, Atlanta offers some interesting perspectives and insights into what renting in today’s market looks like and into why people choose to rent vs buy to begin with.

It  is interesting to note that over the past several years, the number of renters has greatly increased in the suburbs compared to Atlanta’s more urban areas. According to Rent Café, the number of suburban renters increased by about 25% from 2011 to 2015, more than 50,000 people, compared only about 15,000, or 10%, in urban areas. Atlanta is definitely an urban city of suburban sprawl, and with 61% of total renters in the suburbs and those areas capturing a lot of the rent growth it seems like it may stay that way for some time. Those suburban renters cite better schools, quieter communities, and lower rents ($1,277 urban vs $1,006 suburban averages) as reasons they choose to leave the city’s inner neighborhoods.

Some good news for all these Atlanta renters? Zillow says it anticipates that rent growth will, after years of hearty spikes, start to level off  around .9% nationwide in the coming year. Maybe that is why only 41% of current renters say they expect to move or have any interest in owning a home– the lowest number ever recorded according to a recent Freddie Mac survey. Times they are a’ changin’, but it looks like renting is here to stay, and that’s certainly true in Atlanta. 

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Renter’s Regret and Buyer’s Remorse

The old adage about grass being greener can be used in almost any situation, but because shelter is a basic human need, pretty much all of us can find something about our living situation, be it renting or owning, that we’d rather not have to deal with and could imagine being better if only we had chosen the other option.

A recent survey conducted by Trulia has found that nearly half the respondents had at least something to complain about after their decision. A whopping 71% of Millennials polled were disappointed.

  • 44% of homeowners took issue with their purchase or the process they went through to get it.giphy
  • 41% of renters said they wish they had bought instead, despite the fact that 1 in 4 respondents with a household income above $100,000 said they didn’t even think they could afford to buy. A forlorn renter might ask, “What could possibly be wrong with owning?!” Well, the survey has a response:  size does matter, apparently.
  • 33% of homeowners wish they had gone bigger. (Sorry, tiny home lovers) Interestingly, 9% – a fair shake – wish they had gone smaller. (Are McMansions finally losing appeal?) For owners, another oft cited regret was the amount of remodeling they had done or not done:
  • 26% said they wish they had made a different decision in that department.

So what about those remorseful renters who wish they’d bought?

tumblr_inline_nfnz6wGIwe1ru34zh.gifExperts say they should make sure to do as much research as possible. A lot goes into buying a home, and you don’t want to make such a large purchase just to end up like those regretful owners living forever unsatisfied with their choice.

Buy when you have your sights set on long-term goals and have done all you can to pay down other debts and save up a considerable down payment. Do a lot of research and preparation, and give yourself firm boundaries before you start looking for your dream home. Shopping, falling in love, then figuring out how to buy that property is “not a recipe for success”.

Remember that while renting can be a pain, owning will come with taxes, insurance, maintenance, and more – all on top of that mortgage payment. And, experts say, be prepared to stay because you typically cannot break even until at least five years after your purchase.

 

 

 

 

Millennials: Buying or Renting…and why?

There is no shortage of opinions or statistics about where and how the Millennial generation is choosing to live. We hear tropes all the time about how the young generation is flocking to urban areas, but at the same time there’s a constant drone about how they’re staying in mom and dad’s basement.

Articles abound, discussing how Millennials cannot afford to buy (or even rent in a lot of cities!) because they are saddled with debts from college. Housing costs are skyrocketing, while news stories tell us all about how Millennials are lazy, entitled, and always glued to a screen.

Team of creative people taking a break and using computer.

Millennials, like all Americans, understand the value of homeownership, but our goals and our realities may not always make owning a home a possibility, and cities, governments, and responsible developers have a role to play in helping us (and all us 99%) figure out ways to make our living choices possible, whether we rent or buy.

The signs that Millennials are ready to buy are out there:  According to a Trulia analysis of Census Bureau data, in the first quarter of 2017, more new households were formed as a purchase rather than a lease, the first time that happened in 11 years.

Other data shows that in 65% of the country, an average mortgage is less than the average rent!

Regardless of generation, one can see the value in that. Some developers are taking the path of trying to get more starter homes on the market after many years flooding the market with luxury units and McMansions.

There was a 27% increase (up to 31% of the market total) in speculative new homes under 2,250 square feet from January to March in 2017 versus the same period in 2016. And with the trend of more dense urban living, some developers are also buying and reselling homes in and around city centers where there is less land for redevelopment.

But, there are still plenty of factors pointing to a love (or need) for renting. Many Millennials are simply not ready to take the plunge into ownership, knowing that a lease can offer attractive features that a mortgage just cannot.

Others are suffering from the 8% unemployment rate for their generation and spending their money on their portion of the $1 trillion in student debt loan instead of the often 10% down payment required to purchase a home – not to mention the convenience of avoiding ongoing maintenance and repairs, insurance, etc that are not typically required with a lease.

1Consider too that many apartments today offer gyms, pools, connectivity, possibly a concierge – things not available to a homeowner. And while the tides may be changing, many apartments are still located in more community-oriented areas of town than an affordable home, with easier access to culture, nightlife, and public transit among other perks. Unlike with a purchase, a lease is temporary, so it’s very easy to pack up and leave when or if the desire strikes.

In sum, while it’s as easy to point out facts, figures, and opinions about Millennials as it has been and still is for Boomers, Gen X, and all those who preceded and will follow them, the takeaway is that each generation is made up of multi-faceted individuals with a huge variety of tastes, goals, and means. Markets shift over time and there will always be innumerable different combinations of needs, wants, and abilities when it comes to where we choose to live.