Redfin Reports Renters Staying Put Longer

(Illustration courtesy of Redfin)

Renters are less likely to move than they were a decade ago, as soaring housing costs have priced many out of homeownership, according to Redfin, Seattle.

A new report from Redfin found one in six (16.6%) U.S. renters had been in their home for 10 years or more in 2022, up from 13.9% a decade earlier.

Redfin also analyzed renter tenure by other timeframes:

One in six (16.4%) lived in their home for five to nine years in 2022, up from 14% a decade earlier.

Most renters (41.8%) stayed in their home for one to four years in 2022, up from 39.9% a decade earlier.

One-quarter of renters stayed in their home for 12 months or less before moving in 2022. That’s down from 32.2% in 2012.

“The uptick in tenure is beneficial for renters and their landlords,” Redfin Senior Economist Sheharyar Bokhari said. “While the fact that people are staying longer in their rentals may mean they can’t afford to buy a home in today’s market, staying put also means they’re saving some money that could eventually go toward a down payment if they do have a goal of homeownership.”

Bokhari noted staying in the same home means renters are likely to face smaller rent increases than if they move to a new rental home, and they’re saving money on moving costs and application fees. “Landlords typically prefer long-term tenants because they don’t have to spend money on cleaning and marketing vacant units,” he said.

There are several reasons renters are staying put in their homes longer than they used to:

First, some renters are priced out of homeownership. The median U.S. home-sale price has more than doubled since 2012 and has risen more than 40% since 2019 alone, and mortgage rates are near two-decade highs. That makes it difficult for renters to save for down payments and monthly mortgage payments, and encourages them to stay put.

Next, rental prices have risen, too. Asking rental prices have increased more than 20% since 2019, discouraging people from moving from one rental to another.

Finally, renting as a lifestyle has risen, too. “The pandemic-driven rise in remote work encouraged some Americans to be renters rather than homeowners so they could easily relocate for jobs or lifestyle without being tied down to a home they own,” Redfin said. “Some renters also choose to invest their money in places other than real estate. That increases renter tenure because those are the people who may have otherwise moved out of a rental into a home they purchased.”

Renters move less often than they did a decade ago, but they move much more often than homeowners. Just one in five (20.8%) renters nationwide moved in 2022, down from 28.9% in 2012. Just 7.6% of homeowners moved in 2022, up slightly from 6.4% in 2012, Redfin reported.

Bokhari noted renter tenure could start to decline soon because there was an apartment-building boom in 2023, giving renters more options for places to move and cooling rental-price growth.