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Freddie Mac: Rental housing rises in 2011

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Despite the most affordable buying market in decades, households across the country are slowly choosing rentals versus homeownership, signaling a positive economic trajectory for the multifamily sector, according to Freddie Mac’s October 2011 economic outlook report released Monday. In the year ending June 2011, the Census Bureau reported a net increase of 1.4 million households that moved into rental housing, a 4% rise in the number of tenant households. The U.S. homeownership rate fell about 1.5% over the past year, according to Freddie Mac's report. Hessam Nadij, managing director of research and advisory services for Marcus & Millichap, said in the August issue of HousingWire magazine that “apartments, which are considered part of the commercial real estate sector, are well ahead of retail, office properties and industrial properties in the recovery because of the release of pent up demand.” Much of the rental demand is from household heads under 30 years old who have decided to postpone homeownership in favor of renting during uncertain economic times, according to the report. Owner rates for those under 25 years old fell 4.4% to 21.9% while rates for those 25 to 29 years old fell 7% to 34.7%. Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimated a net decline of 1.2 million homeowners since 2007, alongside a net increase of 3.4 million renters. Americans expect home prices to continue to fall, according to a recent Fannie Mae National Housing Survey. Another Fannie survey released in August also predicted a rise in renters. Financing for rental housing is becoming more readily available. Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, attributed the rise in lending to low mortgage rates, improving apartment-sector economics and the return of traditional lenders that had curtailed activity during the recession. Nothaft said this year's multifamily loan origination volume is "stronger" than last year's. Texas is the hottest market for apartments this year. A majority of the growth is coming from the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, according to MPF Research, a unit of RealPage, Inc. The North Texas region started more than 7,300 new units, according to the firm’s mid-year data. Write to Justin T. Hilley.

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