In a Slowing Housing Market, Sellers Ask: Why List a Home When You Can Collect Rent?
U.S. home sellers increasingly opt to hold on to their houses amid a soaring home-rental market
U.S. home sellers increasingly opt to hold on to their houses amid a soaring home-rental market
After Mark and Melissa Reichert moved from California to Dallas, the couple put their home in the Los Angeles suburbs up for sale this summer. Yet even after they cut the asking price by $10,000, there was hardly any interest.
Instead, they decided to rent out the house. Their monthly payout now covers their ownership costs. If the housing market remains sluggish, they would likely keep the home as a rental once the current two-year lease expires, Mr. Reichert said.
“There’s just not serious buyers out there,” he said.
Home sellers across the U.S., discouraged by the slowing housing market and able to capitalise on the soaring home-rental market, are increasingly opting to hold on to their houses and lease them out instead.
Higher mortgage-interest rates have reduced home-buying demand, and homes are sitting on the market for longer. Home prices have slid from their springtime peaks in some markets, and some sellers are reluctant to lower their asking prices.
And with many prospective home buyers priced out of the market, rents for single-family homes have soared in recent years.
As prospective sellers shift from selling to renting, that is pulling supply out of the for-sale market, just as the number of homes for sale was starting to rise from near record lows. The tight supply of homes for sale is a big reason why prices continue to climb even as sales decline.
The number of home listings that were delisted without going under contract rose 58% in August from a year earlier, though the overall number remains a small portion of total listings, according to brokerage HouseCanary.
The phenomenon of delisting and renting out has become noticeable enough that John Burns Real Estate Consulting asked 1,000 real-estate agents about it for the first time. The numbers varied widely by region but were significant in some popular markets. In Southern California, 10% of home sellers switched their listings from for-sale to for-rent due to higher mortgage rates, and 9% in Texas did so, according to the survey.
“People are hearing that rents are going up, so they’re saying, ‘Well if I can’t sell it for what I want, I’ll just rent it, because I’ll get a really good rent,’” said Anthony Lamacchia, who owns a Waltham, Mass.-based real-estate brokerage and a property-management company.
Homeowners often rely on the proceeds of a home sale for a down payment or to help them qualify for a mortgage to purchase a new home. New companies and products have sprung up in recent years to help homeowners buy before they sell, or buy without selling at all.
“In a market that’s flat or down, you are going to have a lot of people who probably don’t want to sell right now,” said David Friedman, chief executive of Boston-based Knox Financial, which offers loan products, property management and other services to homeowners who want to turn their homes into rental properties. “We certainly expect people to decouple when they buy from when they sell, and part of the way to do that is to rent.”
Many homeowners have locked in borrowing costs below the current average mortgage rate. By choosing to become landlords, would-be sellers are betting they can still profit from the value of their house, if rents continue to rise while their mortgage payments remain fixed.
“Properties that we were leasing out for $1,500 last year now have pushed up by $300 to $400 a month,” said Chris Harden, broker and property manager at Re/Max Four Corners in the Dallas suburbs.
Owning rental property comes with risks, including disputes with tenants, unexpected repair costs or a slowdown in the rental market. Real-estate agents said many people renting out their previous homes are likely to sell once sales rebound, though others could choose to maintain them as rental properties indefinitely.
In the pricey suburbs of Silicon Valley, Coldwell Banker Realty agent Ramesh Rao said it is becoming more common for people to choose the rental option when they move to a new home.
“They feel that the concern of being a landlord is very much minimised, given the high quality of the tenant they can expect,” Mr. Rao said.
Turning their previous homes into rentals also helps homeowners avoid local home sales taxes, which can add up to a percentage point or more of the sale price, Mr. Rao said.
An increase in rental inventory could help flatten rent growth. Rents for single-family homes nationally rose 13.4% in June from a year earlier, slightly off from 14% year-over-year growth in April, according to housing-data firm CoreLogic.
Demand from renters, however, is still growing. The John Burns Real Estate Consulting survey found that 11% of prospective home buyers nationally switched in July from wanting to buy a home to renting instead. In Texas, the share of buyers switching to renting was 24%, the highest in the nation.
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Vacationers scratching their travel itch this season are sending prices through the roof. Here’s how some are making trade-offs.
Capri Coffer socks away $600 a month to help fund her travels. The Atlanta health-insurance account executive and her husband couldn’t justify a family vacation to the Dominican Republic this summer, though, given what she calls “astronomical” plane ticket prices of $800 each.
The price was too high for younger family members, even with Coffer defraying some of the costs.
Instead, the family of six will pile into a rented minivan come August and drive to Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Coffer booked a beach house for $650 a night. Her budget excluding food for the two-night trip is about $1,600, compared with the $6,000 price she was quoted for a three-night trip to Punta Cana.
“That way, everyone can still be together and we can still have that family time,” she says.
With hotel prices and airfares stubbornly high as the 2023 travel rush continues—and overall inflation squeezing household budgets—this summer is shaping up as the season of travel trade-offs for many of us.
Average daily hotel rates in the top 25 U.S. markets topped $180 year-to-date through April, increasing 9.9% from a year ago and 15.6% from 2019, according to hospitality-data firm STR.
Online travel sites report more steep increases for summer ticket prices, with Kayak pegging the increase at 35% based on traveler searches. (Perhaps there is no more solid evidence of higher ticket prices than airline executives’ repeated gushing about strong demand, which gives them pricing power.)
The high prices and economic concerns don’t mean we’ll all be bunking in hostels and flying Spirit Airlines with no luggage. Travellers who aren’t going all-out are compromising in a variety of ways to keep the summer vacation tradition alive, travel agents and analysts say.
“They’re still out there and traveling despite some pretty real economic headwinds,” says Mike Daher, Deloitte’s U.S. transportation, hospitality and services leader. “They’re just being more creative in how they spend their limited dollars.”
For some, that means a cheaper hotel. Hotels.com says global search interest in three-star hotels is up more than 20% globally. Booking app HotelTonight says nearly one in three bookings in the first quarter were for “basic” hotels, compared with 27% in the same period in 2019.
For other travellers, the trade-offs include a shorter trip, a different destination, passing on premium seat upgrades on full-service airlines or switching to no-frills airlines. Budget-airline executives have said on earnings calls that they see evidence of travellers trading down.
Deloitte’s 2023 summer travel survey, released Tuesday, found that average spending on “marquee” trips this year is expected to decline to $2,930 from $3,320 a year ago. Tighter budgets are a factor, he says.
Wendy Marley is no economics teacher, but says she’s spent a lot of time this year refreshing clients on the basics of supply and demand.
The AAA travel adviser, who works in the Boston area, says the lesson comes up every time a traveler with a set budget requests help planning a dreamy summer vacation in Europe.
“They’re just having complete sticker shock,” she says.
Marley has become a pro at Plan B destinations for this summer.
For one client celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary with a budget of $10,000 to $12,000 for a five-star June trip, she switched their attention from the pricey French Riviera or Amalfi Coast to a luxury resort on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.
To Yellowstone fans dismayed at ticket prices into Jackson, Wyo., and three-star lodges going for six-star prices, she recommends other national parks within driving distance of Massachusetts, including Acadia National Park in Maine.
For clients who love the all-inclusive nature of cruising but don’t want to shell out for plane tickets to Florida, she’s been booking cruises out of New York and New Jersey.
Not all of Marley’s clients are tweaking their plans this summer.
Michael McParland, a 78-year-old consultant in Needham, Mass., and his wife are treating their family to a luxury three-week Ireland getaway. They are flying business class on Aer Lingus and touring with Adventures by Disney. They initially booked the trip for 2020, so nothing was going to stand in the way this year.
McParland is most excited to take his teen grandsons up the mountain in Northern Ireland where his father tended sheep.
“We decided a number of years ago to give our grandsons memories,” he says. “Money is money. They don’t remember you for that.”
Chima Enwere, a 28-year old piano teacher in Fayetteville, N.C., is also headed to the U.K., but not by design.
Enwere, who fell in love with Europe on trips the past few years, let airline ticket prices dictate his destination this summer to save money.
He was having a hard time finding reasonable flights out of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., so he asked for ideas in a Facebook travel group. One traveler found a round-trip flight on Delta to Scotland for $900 in late July with reasonable connections.
He was budgeting $1,500 for the entire trip—he stays in hostels to save money—but says he will have to spend more given the pricier-than-expected plane ticket.
“I saw that it was less than four digits and I just immediately booked it without even asking questions,” he says.
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