Digested From “Renters Transform U.S. Housing Market”
National Post by Margaret Chadbourn
JHP Architecture is wrapping up work on a 300-unit apartment community in Dallas, one of a dozen projects the firm has on its hands — a surge of business driven by an increase in demand in the United States for rental housing. The spike in demand has forced JHP to expand, and it expects to continue hiring at least through the first three months of the year. “We’re seeing overall work come back and there’s a backlog of contracts to go through,” said Brian Keith, director of urban design and planning at JHP. “There’s strong interest in multifamily units and plenty of pent-up demand.” With U.S. unemployment still high at 8.6 percent, home foreclosures rising, and property values under pressure, more and more Americans have abandoned the dream of owning a house and are choosing instead to rent — a transition that is changing the outlook of the U.S. housing sector. The percentage of Americans who own their home fell from an apex of 69.2 percent in late 2004 to a 13-year low of 65.9 percent between April and June 2011. It inched up to 66.3 percent in the third quarter of this year. Morgan Stanley analyst Oliver Chang dubbed 2012 as “The Year of the Landlord” in his recent report. He wrote: “Rents are rising, vacancies are falling, household formations are growing, and rental supply is limited. We believe the demand for rental properties will continue to grow.