HUD and Census Bureau: Findings of Rental Housing Finance Survey Released

Survey Finds Nearly Half of Rental Units are in Rental Properties with Four or Fewer Units

Of the 48.2 million rental housing units, nearly 49 percent are located in rental properties of one to four units, according to the latest Rental Housing Finance Survey (RHFS) data released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau. For these small rental properties, nearly 73 percent (14.1 million) are owned by individual investors and more than one-third (7.9 million) have a mortgage or similar debt

“Since 2012, the Rental Housing Finance Survey has been America’s premier source of data on rental housing finance and financial health,” said Seth Appleton, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research. “The new 2018 Rental Housing Finance Survey data will help the administration better understand the potential impacts of COVID-19 on the financial health of America’s rental property owners.”

The Rental Housing Finance Survey is funded by HUD and data is collected every three years by the Census Bureau. RHFS is the most comprehensive survey of rental housing properties in the United States, covering topics such as property configuration, ownership and management, rental income and expenses, financing, and capital improvements and expenses. Today’s release includes summary tables for areas across the nation.

Below are highlights from the national level findings among the 20 million rental properties, which contain 48.3 million rental units.

Rental Property Configuration

  • About 86 percent of all rental properties contain only one rental unit and 97 percent of all rental properties have only one building.
  • About 36 percent of all rental units are in properties with one rental unit, while about 30 percent of rental units are in properties with 150 or more rental units.

Ownership and Management

  • About 72 percent of rental properties, representing 41 percent of all rental units, are owned by individual investors and 16 percent of rental properties with 37 percent of units are owned by limited liability corporations or partnerships. For properties with 150 or more units, 63 percent are owned by limited liability corporations or partnerships.
  • About 22 percent of small rental properties (1-4 units) are managed professionally while 94 percent of properties with 150 or more units are managed professionally.

Rental Income and Expenses

  • The median monthly rental receipt per rental unit is $750.
  • The median monthly operating expense (not including debt service) is $325 per rental unit.

Property Purchase, Value, and Financing

  • The median estimated market value per rental unit is $110,800.
  • The median purchase price per rental unit is $75,000 (not adjusted for inflation).
  • About 42 percent of all rental properties have a mortgage or similar debt. For properties with a mortgage, the median debt per rental unit is $119,000 at mortgage origination (not adjusted for inflation).

Capital Expenses and Improvements

  • About 78 percent of property owners reported making some type of capital improvement to their rental unit(s) in 2017.
  • Owners annually spend a median of $500 per rental unit on capital improvements.

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