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LexisNexis enhances tenant screening in expanding multifamily market

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As millions of Americans across the nation migrate from homeownership to rental housing, multifamily property sellers are gaining a new tool that could help landlords screen tenants. LexisNexis Risk Solutions Wednesday launched a background screening tool that offers rental management companies access to real-time daily reports on potential and current residents living on their properties. The tool allows customers of LexisNexis Resident Screening instant access to tailored, daily reports on their property portfolio’s performance against benchmarks from the millions of annual resident screening searches done by LexisNexis, allowing them to strengthen their resident business strategy and property portfolio. "It does that right down the level of credit score, monthly income, landlord debt, eviction hits and also by offense type for criminals," said Kirsten Porter, Lexis Nexis Senior Director of Product Management. "We go right down to the very smallest level of detail that its possible to give benchmarks against." The launch of the screening service arrives at a time when declining home values are causing millions of Americans to choose rental housing over homeownership. 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. Doug Bibby, president of the National Multi Housing Council President, said by 2025, singles and unrelated individuals living together will comprise 40% of households. By that time, families with children will make up only 20% households, down from 33% in 2000, he added. "The U.S. is on the cusp of fundamental change in our housing dynamics as changing demographics and changing housing preferences drive more people away from the typical suburban house and toward the type of housing that rental housing offers," Bibby said. The nation's homeownership rate fell to 66% in the second quarter, down from 66.4% in the first quarter and 66.9% in the second quarter a year earlier, according the the Census Bureau. Each 1% decline in the homeownership rate represents a shift of one million households to rentals. And lenders are taking notice. Multifamily lenders increased financing for apartments containing five or more rental units by 31% in 2010, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report earlier this month. The number of renters swelled by 4 million from 2005 to 2010. Write to Justin T. Hilley. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHilley.

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