Financial Crisis Yields A Generation of Renters (#GotBitcoin)
Many young adults are priced out of the housing market. That could reshape their finances—and the economy—for years to come. Financial Crisis Yields A Generation of Renters (#GotBitcoin)
Alex Ruiz, 29 years old, and his wife, Stephanie Johnson, have steady jobs, are setting aside money for retirement and are slowly paying down their student debt.
Yet buying a house seems out of reach for at least another decade. Home values in Asheville, N.C., where they live, are up some 70% over the past seven years. Their student-loan payments and rising rent have made it difficult to save for a down payment, and the houses that go on the market get snapped up right away.
“Day to day we’re OK generally,” said Mr. Ruiz, a case manager at a government-funded agency. “But the depressing part is when we take a hard look at the possibility of our future.”
For generations, the wealth of U.S. households was built on the foundation of homeownership. That is changing.
Homeownership rates for younger Americans have fallen sharply over the last decade. The median age of a home buyer is 46, the oldest since the National Association of Realtors began keeping records in 1981. Economists, policy makers and mortgage lenders expect the trend to extend to younger generations. The decline illustrates what for many Americans is the real legacy of the financial crisis.
People who came of age in the crisis and its immediate aftermath had no bargaining power when they entered the job market, crimping their earnings ever since. They started adulthood when the housing market was crashing and watched as banks foreclosed on their parents—and decided they weren’t interested in tying their fortunes to a piece of property.
Now, as memories of the crisis fade, they want to buy homes but are finding themselves priced out of the market. Home prices have risen across the board but most steeply among the starter homes first-time buyers can afford, as developers focus on high-end properties where profit margins are higher.
The average price of lower-priced homes rose by 64% from early 2012 to late 2018, according to mortgage-data tracker CoreLogic , while the price of higher-end homes rose just 40%.
The effects are already reverberating through the economy. More adults in their 20s and 30s are living with their parents, according to census data, which could make them unwilling or unable to move cities for better jobs.
The possibility of rent increases could make them less willing to spend, which some economists believe has already contributed to the economy’s slow postcrisis growth. Some young adults said their inability to buy a home had made them rethink having children, which could exacerbate the challenges created by America’s aging population.
“Lower homeownership for young adults means lower economic growth,” said Sam Khater, chief economist of mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac . “That’s it in a nutshell.”
Homeownership rates for young people are near their lowest levels in more than three decades of record-keeping. About 40% of young adults, ages 25 to 34, were homeowners in 2018, according to federal data analyzed by Freddie Mac. That is down from about 48% in 2001, when Gen X-ers were young adults. Some economists calculate the decline is actually even steeper.
The crux of the problem: Home prices have outpaced wage gains. From roughly the end of 2000 to the end of 2017, median home prices rose 21% after adjusting for inflation, while median household income rose 2%, according to federal and industry data analyzed by Freddie Mac.
Some of the drop in homeownership is a matter of preference. The financial crisis made today’s young adults averse to debt and risk, lenders say. That means they might be willing to spend on daily luxuries but not to tie up the bulk of their money in a mortgage.
Millennials aren’t making up for lost home equity in other investments. The median net worth for young families plunged by nearly a third from 2001 to 2016 after adjusting for inflation, according to the Federal Reserve.
Even if millennials soon start buying homes en masse, as some banks and mortgage lenders predict, there are consequences to buying late. A recent report by the Urban Institute examined homeowners who turned 60 or 61 between 2003 and 2015. Those who bought their first home between ages 25 and 34 had median housing wealth of about $149,000. Those who waited until ages 35 to 44 had half that.
The effects of not buying, or buying late, should become more clear as millennials enter new stages of life. The median family net worth of homeowners is more than $230,000, according to the Fed, compared with $5,000 for renters.
Without home equity, people are less able to weather job losses or unexpected medical expenses, and less able to start small businesses. Baby boomers could find that when they want to downsize, there are fewer buyers because younger adults never built up equity in a first home. And decades from now, millennials might have to keep working well into retirement age.
“Jobs are plentiful, the economy seems good, and lenders are going to look at this and say, ‘Everything’s great,’” said Brad Blackwell, who recently retired as head of housing policy at Wells Fargo & Co. “But they should take the long view.”
In Philadelphia, Nate Baird and his wife have set a goal to buy a home next year, before their son starts school.
Mr. Baird, an emergency-preparedness planner, took a second job teaching at a local university to earn extra income to save for a down payment and pay off student debt.
“We’ve thrown ourselves into working,” said Mr. Baird, 33. “It’s a trade-off.”
Though mortgage rates are low, that matters little when home prices are rising faster than income. Increasingly, the young adults who can afford homes will be those whose parents can help with a down payment, economists and lenders said.
Elysse Lane and her husband finished business school in 2016 and wanted to live in the San Francisco area, where she had a job offer and family. They moved to Austin, Texas, instead, in large part because buying a home in California seemed impossible.
But the market in Austin is crowded too. They have put offers on three homes but lost to other bidders. One small comfort: They don’t really feel out of place. Many of their friends are in similar situations.
Security Deposits Are the Bane of Many Renters. Lawmakers Want to Change That
They rise just like rents. Is insurance the solution?
A growing number of legislators are trying to eliminate a practice that has prevented many lower- and middle-income people from renting an apartment: the steep, all-cash security deposit.
With low-cost housing hard to come by in many states, state and city lawmakers are introducing bills that would give younger renters and others strapped for cash the choice to replace security deposits with insurance policies or installment plans paid overtime. These payments are usually equivalent to one or two months’ rent, which landlords require as a guarantee against damages.
Cincinnati on Wednesday became the first U.S. city to require that landlords accept alternatives to a cash deposit, including payment plans and insurance.
New York state lawmakers recently passed a measure limiting deposits to no more than one month’s rent. A member of the Virginia House of Delegates submitted a bill to give tenants options for how they pay deposits last week. Legislators in Connecticut, Alabama and New Hampshire say they plan to introduce similar bills.
Laws to ease costs associated with security deposits are part of a growing effort by lawmakers in a number of states to address the shortage of affordable housing and rapidly rising rents. Over the past year, California, New York and Oregon have introduced new limits on rent, while others have enhanced protections against evictions.
Average rents rose 36% nationally over the past decade, though rents rose more than twice that amount in hot markets such as Denver and Seattle, according to data provider Yardi Matrix. About a quarter of American renters pay 50% or more of their income in rent, according to listings platform Apartment List.
Many landlords are already pushing back against the security-deposit legislation. They say collecting all-cash security deposits at move-in is necessary to protect their assets and make sure a tenant doesn’t skip out without paying the last month’s rent.
Lawmakers sponsoring the bills say many renters can be effectively priced out of a market—even if they can afford the monthly rent—if they are unable to produce these large cash deposits.
Renters often use savings to pay a one-time deposit on top of the first month’s rent, but survey data suggests it could be a stretch for many Americans. The typical middle-income household has only $3,000 in liquid assets, according to a recent analysis of bank accounts and transactions by the JPMorgan Chase Institute.
“For a significant number of people living in Cincinnati, a security deposit for a two-bedroom would equal or exceed the totality of their savings,” said Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, sponsor of Cincinnati’s new deposit law. “To put down $1,000 up front, that’s a significant expense for some people.”
Proponents also say the new deposit rules could free up billions of dollars to help stimulate local economies.
“We’ve been looking for any and all options to allow our workforce families to continue to live here,” said Ryan Coonerty, a district supervisor in Santa Cruz County, Calif., who supports deposit legislation. “If you can get a couple thousand dollars in people’s pockets, that can make a big difference.”
Some landlords already allow tenants to use insurance instead of a security deposit. In the most common arrangements, a renter pays a small, nonrefundable monthly fee or a one-time payment to a third-party company. That company then strikes a deal with the landlord to take responsibility for certain damages or claims at the end of a lease.
Sarabeth Flowers Lewis, a 27-year-old freelance copywriter in Austin, used a company called Jetty, which charged her and her husband 17.5% of one month’s rent to take on the responsibility for the deposit, when she moved to a new apartment with a home office this month.
“I’m waiting for our security deposit from our last place. I have to manage that. I have to worry about it. And it’s not like I’m guaranteed to get that money back anyway,” Ms. Lewis said.
Still, these alternatives also have a downside. They could create a net loss for tenants who might otherwise receive their entire deposit back at the end of a lease. Some cover the move-in cost, but if the landlord later wants to make claims for damages, that charge is the tenant’s responsibility.
To address some of these concerns, the Cincinnati bill requires that insurance providers be approved by the state, offer monthly premiums and provide coverage for the entire lease term.
Landlords also say that insurance plans would likely leave them fighting with these companies for claims, when they would previously have the tenant’s deposit already in hand.
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“Now I’m in a whole different realm,” said Charles Tassell, chief operating officer of the National Real Estate Investors Association. “I’ve got to deal with an insurance claim and get my attorneys involved. And they’ve got their high-priced attorneys in-house.”
Cincinnati’s bill included a compromise, allowing landlords to offer installment plans of at least six months to tenants, instead of just insurance plans.
Ankur Jain, co-founder of the company Rhino, sells deposit alternatives that he said cost renters an average of $5 a month on a $1,000 cash deposit. Mr. Jain estimates that the new Cincinnati law could return as much as $100 million that would otherwise be locked up in deposits back to the city’s tenants.
“Giving renters more options for how to save money and how to choose to manage their finances I think is a huge win,” Mr. Jain said.
How Paying Rent Can Boost Your Credit Score
* If you and your landlord have enrolled with a rent-reporting service, your rental payments will be reported to credit bureaus and may help increase your credit score.
* Experian Boost and Piñata are free programs that report your rent payments to Experian and TransUnion respectively.
* Piñata states that its users have been able to raise their credit score by up to 60 points.
You’ve probably heard that one of the best ways to boost your credit score is by paying your bills on time. Your payment history is the single most important factor in determining your credit score. In fact, it makes up 35% of your FICO® Score, which is the most widely used credit scoring model.
The most common bills that count toward your credit score are credit cards, car loans, and mortgages. But did you know that paying rent can actually help improve your credit score, too? Here’s how.
Experian, one of the three credit bureaus, launched a program called Experian Boost in 2019. It can give you credit for making payments for your phone bills, utilities, and certain streaming services. Starting in September 2022, Experian added rent payments to Boost.
To get credit for your rent payments, you connect the bank account you use to pay your rent to Experian Boost. Your rent payments must be for more than the qualifying amount and be made through a rent payment platform or to eligible landlords or property managers online.
The service is free and to get started, you can add this service to your Experian account under Reports and Scores.
Multifamily Positive Rent Payment Reporting Pilot Program
Fannie Mae also launched in September a pilot program where “eligible multifamily property owners can share timely rent payment data through a vendor network to the three major credit bureaus for incorporation in the renter’s credit profile.”
Through this program, Fannie Mae is focused on helping particularly disproportionately represented groups gain equitable access to credit.
Currently, Esusu Financial, Inc., Jetty Credit, and Rent Dynamics are approved vendors with the program. Fannie Mae is hoping the pilot program will expand so more companies in the multifamily industry report rent payments to the credit bureaus.
Piñata is a free iOS and Android app that is a reward and credit building program for renters. The app lets you earn rewards for paying your rent. According to Piñata, its rent reporting tool, Credit Engine, can also help raise your credit score by up to 60 points.
All you need to do is verify that you paid your rent by connecting your bank account. Piñata will then send your verified rent payments to TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus.
Your membership also gives you access to Piñata cash and other deals offered by the app.
These are just some of the rent-reporting services that you can use to help boost your score. There are different services that you can ask your landlord to consider if they aren’t affiliated with one.
If you and your landlord have enrolled with a rent-reporting service, your rental payments will be reported to credit bureaus and may increase your credit score. So, if you’re looking for a way to give your credit score a quick and easy boost, paying your rent on time is a great place to start.
I Have A Credit Card Just For My Rent, And It’s Totally Worth It
The Bilt Mastercard® Credit Card lets me earn rewards points on my biggest monthly expense.
* Points Rate: Up to 1x on rent up to 50,000 points per year, 2x on travel, 3x on dining, 1x on other purchases
* Intro bonus: None
* Annual fee: None
* APR: See Terms.
Check out the full The Bilt Mastercard® Credit Card offer here.
About $30,000 a year—that’s how much I paid in rent for my first New York City apartment five years ago—and that number has only gone up since then.
As someone who takes credit card points more seriously than perhaps I should, it’s always upset me that I don’t see any sort of rewards on the largest category of my annual budget. That’s why the The Bilt Mastercard® Credit Card caught my attention and ultimately earned a place in my wallet.
It’s the only credit card I’ve found that lets me pay my rent while earning those precious points. To me that’s worth $500 in value a year, without any fees. There are some small hassles—you need to remember to make a certain number of purchases each month, for example.
But whether you carry a stack of credit cards for specific purchases or this will be your only one, the Bilt Mastercard is a no-brainer for any renter who cares about earning rewards.
How Bilt Mastercard Rewards Work
The Bilt Rewards program lets you earn a point per dollar on your rent, with a cap of 50,000 points a year. That might sound like a hard-to-reach figure but it’s actually not if you live in a region with high housing costs.
A recent report showed the average monthly rent in Manhattan has topped $5,000 for the first time ever, meaning the average Manhattanite would hit the rent points cap in just 10 months.
Even if you’ll never max out the 50,000-point limit, this card still gives you points on what is the largest monthly expense for many Americans. (Making sure your rent gets reported to the credit bureaus can also be a great way to build a strong credit record.)
While it’s not a cash-back card, Bilt’s points can be redeemed in a variety of ways including the company’s rotating selection of home décor and art, fitness classes and Amazon purchases. You can even use points toward your rent or your down payment on a house, with redemption values around a penny a point.
But you’ll get the most value by transferring the points at a one-point-per-mile rate to Bilt’s travel partners, including American Airlines AAdvantage, United MileagePlus, IHG Rewards and World of Hyatt, among others. Points with these programs are often worth more than 1 cent each, with some approaching two cents.
The upshot is that even if your points are worth just a penny each, you’ll earn $225 worth of value on the national average yearly rent of $22,500, or up to $500 if you max it out. Because there’s no annual fee on the card, that’s like free money. And that’s in addition to the two points per dollar spent you can earn on travel and three points on dining.
One note: You need to make at least five posted transactions (inclusive of your rent payment) on the card per statement period for that month’s rent points to be credited at full value, otherwise you only earn a flat 250-point return. There is no minimum transaction amount, so I keep a recurring reminder in my phone to charge each month’s first four subway rides to the Bilt card.
How To Pay Your Rent With Bilt Mastercard
Getting your rent payments set up takes a step or two, but it’s not onerous. Bilt partners with more than 20 apartment companies to offer direct payments through its Bilt Rewards Alliance.
You can use your Bilt account to pay online and earn points if your landlord is part of that group. But what about the millions of renters whose homes aren’t affiliated? Bilt can send a check on your behalf, for free, through its mobile app.
Because the card comes with a corresponding Wells Fargo account, you can also pay through systems that support bank transfers, including Venmo and PayPal. And there are no fees because it’s an electronic fund transfer, rather than a credit card transaction.
If you’re concerned about carrying a balance on the card, you can set up BiltProtect Debit, which pulls the funds directly from a linked bank account without using your credit limit while still earning you points. That’s what I do.
How Bilt Mastercard Fits Into My Wallet
I can’t recommend the Bilt Mastercard to anyone who doesn’t rent, because you can get other no-fee cards with greater rewards. Buy Side’s favorite cash-back credit card is the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which delivers unlimited 2% cash rewards on almost all purchases with no annual fee.
That’s a great rate of return with little downside. But if you wanted to pay your rent on that card, you’d have limited options. Venmo charges a 3% fee on credit card payments, for example, which means you’d actually be losing a penny per dollar (if your landlord even accepts Venmo).
I’m the kind of person who has a literal stack of credit cards, because I’m happy to strategically use certain cards for certain categories of purchases—I use the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature for my Amazon purchases, for example.
But even if that sounds like a hassle, if you’re just not fastidious about points collection and you’d rather just carry one card, the Bilt Mastercard offers competitive points on travel and dining. And what’s better than feeling like you’re getting something substantial in return for paying your rent each month.
How Much Is Renters Insurance And What Does It Cover?
Protecting your possessions may cost a lot less than you think.
Chances are your most valuable possessions—from jewelry to furniture and tech—are in your home. If you want to protect them in case of disaster, renters insurance can help.
Renters insurance isn’t strictly necessary. Slightly more than half of renters have an insurance policy, according to a study by SafeHome.org, a home safety website.
But since renters insurance doesn’t cover damage to the structure of your home—your landlord needs to worry about that—it’s relatively affordable compared to other types of insurance.
Here’s how renters insurance works, how much it costs, and how you can save on your policy.
How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost?
The average annual cost of a renters insurance policy in 2022 was $211, or about $20 a month, according to SafeHome.org. Because it only covers your belongings, and not things like your home’s roof or exterior, it’s only a fraction of homeowners insurance, which typically rings in at nearly $1,400 a year.
That said, the cost of renters insurance can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including location, your policy’s coverage limits and deductible, and whether or not you have safety features like a security system or fire alarms in your home.
Where you live plays a significant role in the cost of your policy, especially if you live in an area that’s prone to natural disasters: The average annual renter’s premium in North Dakota is just $115, according to the Insurance Information Institute—but in storm-prone Louisiana, it’s twice that, or $236.
How much coverage you need also influences your policy cost, especially if you own expensive items like jewelry. For example, a typical policy might have a personal property coverage limit of $30,000, but only a $1,500 coverage limit for a category like jewelry.
If you need more coverage than this, you can purchase a rider for an additional cost. For example, Progressive offers a jewelry insurance rider for about 1% to 2% of the value of your jewelry annually.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
Renters insurance includes coverage for your personal possessions, liability coverage, and loss of use coverage.
Personal Possessions Coverage
Much like homeowners insurance, renters insurance covers your personal possessions, up to a certain limit. Personal property coverage limits for a renters insurance policy typically start at around $10,000, with an average coverage limit of around $30,000, according to PolicyGenius.
Here’s A Rundown Of What’s Included:
* Household Goods And Appliances: Everything From Kitchen Appliances To Clothing And Décor
* Technology: Technology Items Like Computers, Tablets, And Phones, Which Typically Have A Sublimit Of $1,000 To $5,000
* Valuables: High-Ticket Items Like Jewelry And Antiques, Which Typically Have A Sublimit Of Around $1,500
Unlike homeowners insurance, renters insurance coverage stops within the walls of your apartment—it doesn’t cover damage to the external structure of your home, which is covered by your landlord’s insurance policy.
When purchasing your renters insurance policy, you’ll need to set a coverage limit for your personal property. This limit should be high enough to cover all of your possessions if they were to be damaged or destroyed.
The easiest way to estimate your needs is to create a home inventory, says Michael Orefice, senior vice president at insurance comparison site SmartFinancial. While you are at it, take pictures or videos of key possessions, which can help during the claims process, according to experts.
You’ll also need to decide on a deductible for your personal property coverage. The deductible refers to how much you’ll pay for a claim before your insurance kicks in.
The most common deductible amount is $500, according to Corie Wagner, senior editor of industry research at SafeHome.org. However, you can lower your premiums by increasing your deductible amount.
When you purchase a renters insurance policy, you’ll need to decide between getting reimbursed for the replacement cost of your items, or the actual cash value, which refers to the depreciated cost of the items.
Opting for replacement cost may raise your premiums slightly, but could save you money if you have to file a claim.
Finally, keep in mind that your policy covers only your own personal belongings. Wagner notes that “If you have roommates living with you, they’ll need their own insurance policies to ensure their belongings are sufficiently covered.”
Aside from protecting your personal belongings, renters insurance also protects you from risk if someone else were to be injured in your apartment.
your landlord’s liability insurance will protect your landlord from a claim, it generally doesn’t extend to you as a renter, which is where your renters insurance policy kicks in. For example, if someone were to trip and fall while visiting you, renters insurance would cover you in the event of a lawsuit.
Recommended liability limits “generally start at about $100,000,” says Mark Friedlander, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.
If you were to be sued, a plaintiff can go after your personal assets if your liability coverage is inadequate, including your home, personal savings, and even retirement accounts, so it’s important to have enough coverage to protect your assets.
You can also purchase an umbrella policy, which is an optional, extra insurance policy that provides additional liability insurance over and above your renters insurance policy.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, it costs about $200 to $350 annually to purchase an umbrella policy with a $1 million coverage limit for liability protection.
Loss Of Use Coverage
Renters insurance will even reimburse you if a covered loss prevents you from staying in your apartment. For example, if your apartment building were to burn down, your renters insurance policy might cover the cost of a hotel stay. Loss of use may be either a percentage of your personal property coverage, or a flat rate, generally between $3,000 and $5,000.
How To Shop For Renters Insurance
When looking for a renters insurance policy, it’s a good idea to request renters insurance quotes from multiple providers. Traditional insurance companies like Geico, State Farm, and Progressive offer renters insurance alongside their oher insurance lines online and through brokers, while new companies like Lemonades operate solely online,
Since insurance companies all use different formulas when weighing factors like your location, building, and credit score, shopping around allows you to see who offers the lowest rates. “Get at least three price quotes from a mix of national and regional carriers,” recommends Friedlander.
When comparing policies, keep in mind that many insurers will offer additional discounts for bundling policies or paying ahead.
If you already purchase another type of insurance, such as auto insurance, from a traditional insurance company, you may be able to get a significant discount if you bundle your renters insurance policy.
5 Tips For Lowering The Cost Of Your Renters Insurance
While renters insurance is already less expensive than other types of insurance like homeowners and auto policies there are ways to cut your policy costs even further.
Bundle Your Renters Insurance With Your Auto Insurance Policy
While home and auto bundles are even more common, many insurance companies offer policyholders a discount if they bundle their renters insurance and auto insurance policies.
According to SafeHome.org, 43% of renters chose to bundle their renters insurance policy with another type of insurance for a discount. Renters who choose to bundle their renters and auto insurance policy save an average of 5%, according to The Zebra.
Raise Your Deductible
$500 is one of the most common deductibles, but you can bump up that number to reduce your premium, as long as you’re confident you could cover the cost in the event of a claim. If you raise your premium from $500 to $1,000, you could save as much as 25% on your policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Sign Up For Paperless Billing
Your insurance company may offer a modest discount, typically a small percentage of the total premium, for signing up for paperless billing.
Instead of receiving a paper bill mailed to your home address each month, you’ll receive a bill and be able to pay it entirely online. About 35% of tenants get a discount for going paperless.
Opt For Actual Cash Value
Opting to go with actual cash value over replacement costs could help to lower your renters insurance premiums. According to Friedlander, “the price of replacement cost coverage is typically about 10%more than actual cash value coverage.”
That said, replacement cost coverage may be worth it for just a little extra per month.
Look For Other Discounts
More than four out of five “insured renters were qualified for at least one policy discount,” says Wagner. In addition to common discounts for bundling policies or paying in advance, renters may be able to get discounts for nonsmoking, senior discounts, or for going a certain amount of time without a claim.
In addition to price, take into account factors like the insurer’s financial stability. “Ideally, you should choose an insurer with an “A” financial rating,” from AM Best, a credit ranking agency focused on the insurance industry, recommends Friedlander.