US home rental price growth pulls even with wages

AP News
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Posted: Jul 22, 2016 8:02 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. renters are seeing their housing costs rise at a much more manageable pace, as new construction has tempered years of runaway increases in rent.

Real estate data firm Zillow says that median rent rose a seasonally adjusted 2.6 percent in June from a year ago, matching the gains in average hourly wages. Rental costs have decelerated after consistently exceeding earnings growth in previous years, a sign that additional building is giving more options.

The median monthly rent nationwide was $1,409. Annual increases in rent surpassed 9 percent in both the Seattle and Portland, Oregon areas, although it has moderated in markets such as San Francisco, where yearly price growth went from double-digit gains to 7.4 percent.

Prices are rising above the national average in New York City and Los Angeles. But they've settled at less than 2 percent in Cincinnati and Cleveland, host of the Republican National Convention this week. Still, rental costs are much cheaper in both Ohio metro areas than the national average.

In Philadelphia, where the Democrats will hold their convention, median rent is more expensive and has been rising at a 2.5 percent to $1,582 a month.

Not all indicators show rent as moderating. The government's consumer price index found that rents had jumped 3.8 percent from a year ago. Shelter accounts for a third of all consumer expenses, according to the index.

Builders have been adding to the national supply of apartments. They completed 310,300 multi-family buildings last year, a 21.4 percent jump from 2014, according to the Commerce Department. Apartment construction through the first half of this year is running another 5.6 percent ahead of the 2015 pace.