Rent Takes a Much Bigger Bite Out of Houston Resident’s Incomes

by Peter Thomas Ricci

We’ve been hearing for some time that rents are increasing, but new numbers from Zillow present the issue in a new light.

Rising rents, like falling home prices, have been one of the prevailing narratives of the post-bubble housing market, with more and more consumers turning to the relative stability of the nation’s rental markets.

Even the consistency of the message, though, fails to deaden the following stat: according to new Zillow research, the percentage of income that Houston residents devote to rent has risen from 18.2 percent (the historical average) to 28.4 percent; in case you’re not keeping track, that’s a 10.2 percentage point increase, or a jump of 57 percent.

What could be behind such an increase? Two factors: surging demand and flailing incomes. With mortgages and well-paying jobs tough to come by, the rental markets are seeing their best numbers in years, and the disproportionate demand has pushed up rents; meanwhile, in the last 14 years, median household income has grown by 25.4 percent…but rents, according to Zillow, have risen 52.8 percent.

Check out our graph below for a visual representation of the trend:

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