Rent Index Shows Rental Markets Heating Up

SEATTLE, WA - Median rents rose 3 percent from January 2011 to January 2012, but home values continued to fall, declining 4.6 percent during that period, according to the January Zillow® Real Estate Market Reports. The Zillow Rent Index (ZRI), which was released for the first time today, showed year-over-year gains for 69.2 percent of metropolitan areas covered by the ZRI.  By contrast, only 7.3 percent of metro areas covered by the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) saw home values rise.

In some large markets, rents rose almost as much as values fell. In the Chicago metro, the ZRI rose 9.1 percent year-over-year, while home values fell 10.4 percent during the same period. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro, rents rose 11 percent and home values fell 8.1 percent.

"The flourishing rental market is the silver lining to the nation's housing downturn," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "We haven't had a good way to quantify what is happening with rental rates until now, and the inaugural Zillow Rent Index shows us a healthy and growing rental market across the majority of the country, even as home values continue to fall.

"While it seems that rents are rising at the expense of home values, the opposite is true. A thriving rental market will stimulate home sales as investors snap up low-priced inventory to convert to rentals. That, in turn, will lower the number of homes on the market, which will eventually help put a floor under the value of all homes. Moreover, rising rents increase demand as buying becomes more attractive than renting because of low purchase prices and higher rents."

In the short term, national monthly rents declined slightly from December 2011 to January 2012, falling 0.3 percent to $1,218. Home values fell 0.5 percent during the same period to $146,200.

Additionally, foreclosures ticked up slightly in January, when lenders foreclosed 8.4 out of every 10,000 homes. That was up from December, when 8.1 out of every 10,000 homes were foreclosed. Foreclosure re-sales(5) also rose on both a month-over-month and year-over-year basis. Nearly one-in-five (19.5 percent) of homes sold in January were foreclosure re-sales.

The full national report, in its interactive format, will be available at www.zillow.com/local-info at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, March 13. Additionally, in most areas, data is available at the state, metro, county, city, ZIP code and neighborhood levels. More market analysis of the monthly data can be found at www.zillow.com/research and a PDF of the Real Estate Market Report can be found at www.zillow.com/blog/research/data/.

Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) is the leading real estate information marketplace, providing vital information about homes, real estate listings and mortgages through its website and mobile applications, enabling homeowners, buyers, sellers and renters to connect with real estate and mortgage professionals best suited to meet their needs. In addition, Zillow operates an industry-leading economics and analytics bureau led by Zillow's Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. Dr. Humphries and his team of economists and data analysts produce extensive housing data and research covering more than 150 markets at Zillow Real Estate Research. Zillow, Inc. operates Zillow.com®, Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, Zillow Mobile, Postlets® and Diverse Solutions™. The company is headquartered in Seattle.