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Who is the new renter?

By Judy Martel ·
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

One promising piece of news in the housing crisis for developers and investors is rental property, which has seen a surge as homeownership rates have fallen off. As builders seek ways to tailor rental units to the needs of renters, the Wall Street Journal reports that they are increasingly looking at single mothers.

Census data show that between 2000 and 2010, the biggest growth among renters came from single mothers, age 35 to 64. After that, the fastest-growing rental groups are single men, unmarried fathers and single women. Although married couples still make up the largest group of renters (26 percent of the market), single mothers and single women combined account for 40 percent.

The increase in rentals is due in part to foreclosures, but also a changing attitude about homeownership from young people, who became skittish after the recession. And single women and mothers often don't want the additional maintenance that comes with owning a home.

Since new rental properties have not kept up with demand, many experts expect an upsurge in construction. In light of the fast-growing single-mother segment of renters, builders may begin adding more play areas and family-friendly amenities into their designs.

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