During 2022, rents across Clark County WA have been rising. There are many stories of tenants having their rent increased 20% or more. If you live in the area, you or someone you know has likely found themselves on the sour end of this change. With vacancy rates low and inflation booming, people are struggling to adapt to the reality of this new rental market. So why is rent increasing in Clark County, Washington (and in so much of the US)? There are several factors at play.
The housing market is constantly in flux. There have been housing booms and market crashes over the years, which have presented challenges to tenants and landlords alike. What’s different about this moment in history is that three crucial factors are at historically high levels at the same time:
- Housing Prices
Let’s examine each of these individually.
The spike in inflation isn’t news for anyone at this point. It’s the reason why everything from fuel to groceries has suddenly gotten much more expensive in 2022. The optimal inflation rate is around 1 to 2 percent per year. However, according to the US Consumer Price Index, for September 2022, the 12-month percentage change in inflation for all items was 8.2%. This means that goods and services cost more, eating into consumers’ disposable income.
Recent census figures show that the number of households in the US spiked by 1.48 million in the last year. Because of that, the pool of potential tenants has gotten considerably larger, covering first-time buyers, remote workers, couples splitting up, and young adults leaving their parents’ homes post-pandemic. At the same time, vacancy rates are at historic lows. According to the US Census Bureau, vacancy rates nationally are at 5.6%. To quote the Census Bureau: “Vacancy rates for rental housing are lower than at any point during the 35-year period from 1985 until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. The vacancy rate for homeowner housing is lower than at any point from 1980 until early 2020.”
Because demand for homes has been high and vacancy rates have been low, home prices increased rapidly from 2020 to 2022. In Clark County, the median home list price increased by over 27% between June 2020 and June 2022, according to the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve. This is the sharpest two-year home price increase in Clark County’s history. At the time of this writing in late October 2022, the average rate was around 7% for a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage – double what the average rate was in October 2021. This combination of high home prices and higher mortgage rates has made home ownership much less affordable in a short period of time. Many prospective homeowners are renting because they’re unable to buy a home, putting more pressure on rental housing. It’s a challenging time to find an affordable rental. There’s no quick fix but here are some hints that may help.
Reducing Rent Costs
In looking for a new place to live you can decide what you really need as opposed to what you’d like to have. You probably need a full-size range and oven, but maybe you could live without a parking space or in-unit laundry. It’s not the most fun of ideas. Still, if you’re willing to go without some “nice-to-haves”, your options widen considerably. Depending on where you live you may even be able to save rent by moving to someplace a little farther out.
There are other strategies you may want to consider when looking for stable and affordable housing. You can take in or become a roommate, or look into government programs offering assistance. And if you’re looking for a top-quality rental home and a responsive landlord, you can find that in Zenith Properties.
Finding a Rental Property in Clark County WA
We can’t control the current housing crisis. We don’t know what the next few years are going to bring. All we know is that we comply with all local, state and federal Fair Housing laws and we would like to help provide Clark County residents with top-quality rental homes. We’ve been a premier property management company in Clark County WA for decades and we’ve been named “Best in Business” in the Property Management category by The Columbian for 5 consecutive years. To learn more, check out our listings or contact us!