new renters aim to save, relocate

Posted by on Feb 21, 2012 in Real estate, Strategy

Print Friendly’s January study of the U.S. rental landscape comes to a not-surprising conclusion that more folks plan on becoming renters in 2012 than had that intent one year before. Some interesting points, however, from this online survey of 3000:

  • A slightly greater number of new renters were those moving out on their own than those who had been homeowners.
  • Loss of a home to foreclosure accounted for only 4 percent of planned rentals . Rather, the number one reason was because renting is less costly.
  • Nearly one of every four adults to be newly out on their own were doing so because their new jobs required relocation.
  • Although newspaper rental listings were sourced by nearly 27 percent of those first-timers,  review sites such as Yelp and became a source for an additional 10 percent than had used them in January, 2011.
Here’s the release, with additional details: National Survey Reveals Renter Moving Plans for 2012   

More Previous Homeowners are Looking to Rent in 2012

CHICAGO (February 21, 2012) – As home values fell yet again at the end of 2011, more and more people are looking to renting as an affordable, flexible lifestyle option, causing apartment vacancies to fall to their lowest point in  10 years. Reis reported that the apartment vacancy rate dropped to 5.2 percent in Q4 of 2011, down from their reports of 5.6 percent in Q3 of 2011. This higher demand for apartment housing means increased renting costs across the nation. In response to this news, conducted a national survey to more than 3,000 of its January website visitors to find out about their 2012 moving plans, including reasons they are moving, why they are opting to rent versus own property, when they plan to move and which tools they value most during their apartment search.


Supporting a growing trend, 33.6 percent of respondents looking for an apartment this year said they are previous homeowners (up from 20.5 percent in 2011). From the survey respondents who said they are homeowners looking to rent in 2012, 26.3 percent are doing so because they believe renting is a more affordable option and 21.2 percent prefer the flexibility renting offers in choosing where to live. provides the five most popular responses why their website visitors are choosing to rent versus own in 2012:


1.  Renting is a more affordable option: (26.3%)

2.  Flexibility to live where I choose: (21.2%)

3.  To relocate for employment: (20.5%)

4.   Cannot afford to keep up with homeownership expenses: (10.5%)

5.   Lost home due to foreclosure and change in marital status: (less than 4% each)


“The fact that more renters are entering the market continues to create a series of challenges for the potential renter, including fewer apartments to choose from, which can drive higher rent rates,” says Chris Brown, vice president of product management, “It’s more important than ever for apartment seekers to be informed and savvy shoppers by utilizing all the online resources available to search for apartments within their budget.”


More than 35 percent of respondents indicated they are moving out on their own – whether for the first time or back into their own place – which may be a sign of an improving economy and job market, especially in the rental demographic. Reinforcing that idea is the fact that 23 percent of renters surveyed reported they are relocating for employment opportunities – making that the number one reason for moving in 2012, as it was in 2011. However, the desire to have more space, to save money and to live in a more desirable neighborhood also topped the list. provides the five most popular responses why their website visitors are moving in 2012:


1.  Relocating for employment opportunities: (23%)

2.  Looking for a bigger apartment: (11.9%)

3.  Shopping for a less expensive apartment: (11.3%)

4.  Wanting to live in a more desirable neighborhood: (10.6%)

5.  Change in marital status: (8.8%)


As part of their due diligence, this survey finds renters tapping multiple resources during their apartment search. While the majority of survey respondents rely on and online apartment classified listings websites, such as Craigslist to find a new place, there has also been a notable 9.2 percent uptick in the number of respondents who are using review websites this year over last. In addition to the dominant choice of, of which 100 percent of survey respondents were utilizing at the time of taking the survey, renters ranked their top apartment shopping tools as follows:


1.  Online apartment classified listing websites (e.g. Craigslist and Oodle): (70.4%)

2.  Search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo!, Bing): (45.3%)

3.  Review websites (e.g., Yelp!): (32.6%)

4.  Word of mouth: (31.5%)

5.   Local newspapers: (26.7%)


Apartment seekers currently in the market for an apartment are encouraged to read the following tips, from, to help them find the perfect place to live.


·         Identify “Need to Have” Versus “Nice to Have” Amenities: Before beginning an apartment search, identify which features and amenities are must haves. Different apartment styles and locations appeal to a variety of renters, depending on the demands of their day-to-day routine. Amenities like newer kitchen appliances and marble countertops, laundry or workout facilities may result in a more expensive apartment. People who are new to a big city may be surprised to find parking hard to come by or an additional expense. The best way to go about finding a place that meets the needs of one’s lifestyle is to create a list of necessities and conduct an online apartment search against that list.


·         Budget Wisely: When looking for a place, experts suggest rent should not exceed 25-30% of one’s annual wages. Take a look at income after taxes and subtract expenses. Be sure to include food, car payment, credit card, entertainment and phone bills as part of the expenses. Whatever is left is what apartment shoppers can afford for their new place. Keep in mind this budget will need to cover rent and other services like gas, cable, electricity and garbage pickup, if these are not already included in the rent. If it’s not already included, ask the landlord or property manager to put what is covered and what is not into the rental agreement.


·         Inspect an Apartment: Most shoppers wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive. So, why would anyone rent an apartment without seeing it first? Especially when a lot of the information to help narrow down the search, including apartment photos and videos, can be found online. On, walk-through video tours guide viewers through the interiors of apartments to help them pinpoint the places that meet their needs before scheduling an appointment. Once interested renters have arrived to the apartment, they should ask the landlord or property manager to give a tour and double check the appropriate safety fixtures (e.g. smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors) are installed and working. Also, test faucets, toilets and other pipes under cabinets for leaks in plumbing. Run a hand along the outside of the window to check for drafts. If there are any items that need to be repaired or replaced, make sure these are addressed before signing the lease.


As part of its “What Renters Want” research series, surveys renters on various topics. For more information on these surveys or to receive a copy of the results, please contact Brittney Theriault at


About ( is a leading national apartment Internet listing subscription service with more than 50,000 unique addresses representing millions of rental units from managed properties, newspaper classifieds and for-rent-by-owner properties. By incorporating the most relevant products to reach renters including personalized searches and highly visual ads featuring live chat, real-time rent, online video walk-through demonstrations, professional photography, a mobile website and iPhone and Android app, creates easy access to its listings. Providing unmatched exposure to its advertisers through an

intuitive name, strategic search engine placements, featured partnerships including Yahoo! Real Estate, Univision and more than 120 newspaper websites and innovative emerging media, reaches millions of renters nationwide, driving both qualified traffic and highly-engaged renters to leasing offices nationwide. is a division of Chicago-based Classified Ventures, LLC. The network of apartment rental websites includes Apartment Home Living (, a leading social media apartment website distinguished by a “live for fun” community experience, proprietary lifestyle matching and local living guides to help renters find their perfect place to live.

Written by Sharon Hill

Sharon Hill has been a senior writer / analyst with the AIM Group since 2004, except for a two-year time-out to serve as sales and marketing manager for Suburban Newspapers of America. She worked at newspapers in California, the Carolinas and Indiana as a classified advertising sales supervisor and manager, and in newspaper circulation in Alaska. At the SNA, she was responsible for bringing in new members; lining up exhibitors, and helping develop programs for the classified conference and the classified alliance. She is also co-author of “Implementing and Managing Telework: A Guide for those who make it Happen” (Praeger Press) and a prolific blogger and social media user. She is based in Phoenix.