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Some homes might be worth more as rentals, Zillow says

By Mike Wheatley | September 1, 2021

Memphis, Miami and Atlanta lead a host of major metros where rents are higher than typical mortgage payments, while new and improved Zillow Rental tools make it easier than ever to assess the possibility and opportunities of becoming a landlord.

The Great Reshuffling and the ability to work from home has severed or seriously stretched the commute for millions of Americans and opened up new opportunities for them to live where they've always dreamed. A recent Gallup poll found 52% of U.S. workers are in at least partially remote jobs, while 33% are fully remote.

"For homeowners looking to explore life in a top metro for digital nomads or favorite vacation town without selling their current house, renting can open the door," said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow home trends expert.

Of the 50 largest U.S. metros, 33 have typical rents that are higher than typical monthly mortgage payments, including insurance and taxes. Property owners who rent out their home for more than their monthly mortgage payments could use the difference for spending, saving or investing, all while trying out some new scenery.

Metro areas across the Midwest and coastal South stood out, and Memphis topped the list, with typical rents at $1,504 in July and typical total monthly mortgage payments at just $948. This makes a rent-to-mortgage difference of $556 in that metro. Sunny Miami came in second with a $522 difference between rents and mortgage payments, followed by Atlanta at $424.

Homeowners interested in renting out their property can use Zillow's improved Rent Zestimate to get a good idea of what they could potentially earn in rent. The Rent Zestimate generates a property's expected rent income by considering a home's physical attributes and amenities, including square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and whether it has air conditioning, as well as public data such as the last sale price.

This new and improved Rent Zestimate delivers a 5% improvement in accuracy over its predecessor, and now allows property owners to update their home facts and view comparable homes used to generate their Rent Zestimate. Zillow currently has data on more than 168 million homes and a Rent Zestimate on 115 million of them.

"Single-family homes comprise about one-third of the nation's total rental stock," said Zillow economist Alexandra Lee. "Owners who do rent out their properties can provide both much-needed rental inventory in tight markets as well as sought-after space and amenities for families looking to move up from an apartment."

For those looking to invest in or turn their home into a rental property, Zillow's new Rental Property Calculator is designed to help independent landlords determine if their prospective purchase makes financial sense. The calculator factors in property price, home appreciation forecasts, expected rental income, mortgage rates and more to find when the purchase will break even and begin to pay itself off.

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, seven of 10 rental properties in the U.S. are owned by individuals. These individuals typically own just one or two properties.

Rent growth across the U.S. slowed dramatically following the coronavirus outbreak, but quickly recovered in 2021. Zillow's recent market report shows rents in July are up annually in all 50 major metros.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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