JCHS Study Highlights Tight Conditions at the Low End of Housing Market

A new analysis by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS), America’s Rental Housing 2017, shows that while rental markets are cooling nationally, conditions remain extremely tight at the low end of the market. According to the report, lower-priced housing is increasingly hard to find not only in high-cost coastal areas but also in many inland areas where rents are generally lower. In 14 of the 50 largest metros, vacancy rates for less expensive units were less than or equal to 5 percent last year, compared to 2006, when only three of the 50 metros had such tight conditions. The tightest market conditions were in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, where vacancy rates for less expensive units were under 3 percent. The analysis suggests that because vacancy rates for less expensive units are extremely low, cooling rental markets offer little relief to affordability pressures faced by renters with the lowest incomes.

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