Real Estate

Freddie Mac: Rising rent is not the biggest concern for tenants

There’s another concern that trumps rent prices

More renters claim they are concerned about high utility costs than about rising rent prices, according to a new survey from Freddie Mac.

The only thing rising faster than home prices may just be rent prices. Home prices are rising across the nation to levels not seen since before the housing crisis and yet, it’s still cheaper to buy than rent, according to a study by online real estate listing service Trulia.

This is the first time that Freddie Mac’s survey included questions about utility costs. The survey showed that 70% of renters are greatly to moderately concerned about higher utility costs, compared to 63% who are concerned about rent increases.

“We will continue to monitor the sentiment of renters closely, but for now it appears renter concerns about household finances and rising rents may be stimulating less interest in buying a home and more on renting one with cost-saving features,” said David Brickman, Freddie Mac multifamily executive vice president.

Renters agreed that multifamily properties with green energy and water saving features would help reduce utility bills, and 84% of renters said these would be better places to live.

In fact, renters are so concerned with their utilities that 47% said they would even pay more in rent in order to live in an environmentally-friendly rental, if it would help lower monthly costs.

“Our research confirms the opportunity for investments in energy efficiency to provide a competitive advantage to multifamily property owners and managers,” Brickman said. “Given the significant burden already posed by rising rents, it is striking that so many are apparently willing to pay more for properties with features they believe will reduce their utility bills.”

Conducted in September for Freddie Mac by the Harris Poll, the findings are based on responses from 1,362 renters.

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