Should You Continue Renting?

Posted on January 07 By Francine Huff

Not sure you should become a homeowner? Even though mortgage rates are still low for home buyers, being a renter for a while longer may not be such a bad thing.

Apartment vacancies in the U.S. hit a 30-year high recently, leading many landlords to lower rents to attract tenants, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

The vacancy rate was at 8% at the end of the year, according to Reis Inc., a New York-based research firm. That was the highest level since it began tracking the data in the top housing markets in the U.S. back in 1980. Rents fell 3% last year.

Some of the vacancies are related to job losses as people could no longer pay for rentals. There also are a lot of condo projects that were converted to rentals, which helped increase the supply.

Other rental units may remain unoccupied as some people take advantage of the government's tax credit for home buyers.

Apparently the vacancy rate has led landlords to offer more incentives to get rentals filled.

"We'll shampoo their carpets. We'll paint accent walls. We'll add Starbucks cards," Richard Campo, chief executive of Houston-based Camden Property Trust, told the Wall Street Journal.

While you may ultimately plan to become a homeowner, being a renter right now may give you some bargaining power. Ask for incentives if you are shopping for an apartment to rent. If you want to stay in your current residence, consider renegotiating your lease with your landlord to get a better deal.

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