Home rentals on the rise in Houston

July 11, 2012 4:31:56 PM PDT
It's been the American dream for years -- owning a home. So why are home rentals on the rise across the country and here in Houston?

From job relocation to financial troubles, more and more Houstonians are choosing a landlord over a mortgage.

For the past 10 years, Gabriel Yonan has rented a home in Houston and loves not having to pay so many of the bills.

"You don't have to worry about paying the taxes. You don't have to pay the homeowners association," Yonan said. "Something goes down, it's not coming out of your pocket."

Just recently, when his air conditioning went out...

"I called my landlord and said hey the AC's not cooling properly," he said. "It's showing 80 degrees in the house and it's 60 on the thermostat. Something's wrong."

It was fixed with no out of pocket expense to him. That kind of financial freedom is just one reason the local rental market is booming.

Danny Frank with the Houston Association of Realtors says Houston's job market is driving up home rentals as well. In the past year nearly 96,000 jobs were created and many moving here for those jobs aren't looking to buy just yet.

"Your house is for sale there, you've been transferred here. You come in and find a place to live until your house sells back home," Frank explained. "So if you think about doing that, it really makes financial sense."

In some cases, though, renting may be your only option.

CPA Robert E. Martin said, "If you've had a bad financial past, it's going to be very tough to buy a home again. And if you've had a foreclosure, you're probably going to be renting for a number of years until you can establish your credit again."

Renting may also be better than buying if you're constantly on the move.

"You want to rent if you're planning on moving within five years, because there are a number of fixed costs when you buy a home," Martin explained.

There are downsides to renting. Yonan paid $87,000 in rent in just five years and realized he was helping to pay off someone else's mortgage. So finally, he's decided to take the plunge and buy his own home.

He said, "If I want to knock a wall out in my living room, I can do it and don't need permits or red tape from the landlord. I can make that decision on my own because it's mine."

A couple of things to keep in mind -- because rental demand is so high, supply is lower. That means you'll find prices high. HAR says home rentals rose 15 and a half percent from May of last year to May of this year.


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