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Key Findings of the-Post COVID Rental Market

By Scott Bloom

Did you know that Zillow Rentals recently published a study that cited the top reasons tenants move out of their rental? What do renters care about most now after COVID? How has the growing affordability crisis affected their housing decisions?

According to the Zillow Rentals 2021 Annual Consumer Housing Trends Report, “Rent prices slumped early in 2021 as many renters decamped to more affordable locations to work remotely during the pandemic. But by summer, rents rebounded as those renters returned to cities, with rents increasing an average of 15% YOY nationwide.” Of course, this increase is relative to the prior decline in rents, which the study did not quantify. Still, it indicates a relatively healthy rebound of rent prices to prior levels.

Key Findings of the-Post COVID Rental Market

Key findings of the report include:

  • 50% of renters stayed in the same city.  

My Conclusion: Reports of the death of cities have been exaggerated.

  • In 19 of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, the typical renter is spending more than 30% of their monthly income on rent.  

My Conclusion: A home is considered affordable if it consumes no more than 30% of a household’s income. The study quantifies that about one third of renters in a little more than a third of the largest metro areas have housing solutions that are no longer affordable. That is a troublesome development.

  • 35% of respondents said a change in family size influenced their move, and 33% said they moved, at least in part, because of a new job.  

My Conclusion:  The number one reason renters move is because of a life event, though 29% of renters cited working remotely more often as an influence for their move.

  • Of those polled, 71% of renters agreed that they were more likely to view a rental if the listing included a floor plan they liked and 64% agreed that a 3D home tour is more effective than static photos (a “virtual tour” where the viewer can look up, down, and around the point where the photo was taken).  

My Conclusion:   Advanced Marketing of rentals is becoming a must for landlords, rental agents and rental management companies.

  • The percentage of renters who said a gym was a must-have amenity in a multifamily rental fell 6% from pre-COVID times. 

My Conclusion: The need for social distancing may have made certain shared spaces less popular or less valuable as an amenity.

  • 52% of renters paid rent online and 35% signed leases digitally. 

My Conclusion:  Digital tools became more essential during the pandemic as going online became part of daily life. It is now becoming integral to ensure convenience and rapid succession for prospective renters to view-tour-apply-lease.

CPM works diligently every day for you. By paying attention to industry reports and findings and adjusting what we do, how we work, and the tools we use to attract new renters we help keep your tenant turnover as low as possible.

This is part 1 of a 2-part series about prospective renter preferences and how CPM can help you keep up with the changing marketplace. Look for part 2 “What CPM Does to Attract and Retain Your Renters.” 

Find out more about what Columbia Property Management does for our rental owners: https://www.columbiapm.com/im-an-owner.


Scott Bloom, Owner and Senior Property Manage
Columbia Property Management

Scott Bloom founded Columbia Property Management (CPM) in 2012. And today, he is both the owner and senior property manager. CPM’s goal is to provide a powerful, personal level of service to our clients. We focus on smaller landlords, professionally managing their assets, so they can succeed by investing in rental real estate. Scott is an active member in multiple professional organizations including the National Association of Residential Property Managers.