A leading real estate website is capitalizing on the rebirth of rental housing by adding apartment communities to its online listings. The single-family residential rebound is still years away. And in the meantime, the National Association of Realtors is giving more visible options to people who are unsure whether to rent or buy in the depressed housing environment. NAR’s website, Realtor.com, will soon add apartment listings from Move.com to its lists of properties for sale and rent. Both websites are owned by online real estate company Move Inc. (MOVE). “It’s an opportunity to connect millions of people interested in the convenience apartment communities offer, while providing tools like the ‘rent vs. buy’ calculator, local homes for sale and connections to real estate professionals,” said Move.com Vice President Eric Gramberg. Homeownership is at a 13-year low, and the addition of apartment communities to Realtor.com is another instance of a company recognizing the national shift from ownership to renting. This week LexisNexis Risk Solutions 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. Multifamily occupancy rates on a national level dipped to 91.8% in 2009, but are now drifting upward. In the second quarter of 2011, the U.S. occupancy rate for rental spaces hit 94.3%, with some of the bigger markets like New York and San Jose, Calif., nearing 98%. The optimal occupancy rate on a national scale is generally 95% to 96%, according to MPF Research, a unit of RealPage Inc. People under 30 years of age make up 27.6% of all renter households, according to the National Multi Housing Council. A Freddie Mac study released earlier this month found owner rates for people under 25 years old fell 4.4% to 21.9% while rates for those 25 to 29 years old fell 7% to 34.7%. The typical first-time buyer is 30 years old, according to NAR. Realtor.com displays the largest collection of residential real estate property listings available online today. More than 11 million people visited the site in September. Write to Justin T. Hilley. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHilley.
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