Rentals continue to become more popular

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The number of families living in rental housing rose 4.4 percent over the past year, according to Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic and Housing Outlook for June.

Over the year ending in March, an additional 1.5 million households moved into rental housing, according to the study. At the same time, rental vacancy rates dropped about 2 percentage points over the past two years.

During the year, rental rates rose 2 to 4 percent, but were below rates prior to the Great Recession when adjusted for inflation.

The report also found that property values of multifamily facilities were up an average of 25 percent over their lowest point during the first quarter of 2010, but still about 14 percent below their peak before the Great Recession.

Construction of multifamily properties also is going up. Freddie Mac’s report said starts of buildings with five or more apartments have jumped 48 percent in the first five months of this year when compared to a year ago.

“Further increases in rental demand are likely in the coming year as newly formed households postpone homeownership decisions until the economy strengthens and they have accumulated sufficient savings,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said in a statement. “Overall apartment market trends may show further vacancy declines and rent gains, with property values improving as well.”

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