Rent growth has been a big story in the housing recovery. Multifamily rental starts and completions have concentrated on higher-end market segments in big cities, while development in the mid- and lower tiers of the rent spectrum has been scarce.
So, the benchmarks and metrics for measuring prospective rent growth now suggest a massive slow-down in rent payment power, since the demand pool among higher-end tenants can be expected to "level out" vs. development, and even begin exploring homeownership options vs. pay more in monthly rents.
Meanwhile, if jobs growth remains steady, household formations will continue to gain traction at the middle and lower household income bands of the market, which will put pressure on rents at those levels of the market, where there has been and is less multifamily, for-rent development.
Which is the reason, we don't necessarily concur with Zillow in its estimate for a mere 1% increase in rent growth this year. Constraints on supply in the mid- and lower tiers will pressure rents at those levels, at least for another 12 to 24 months.
At the higher rent levels, prices may ease and even go down as more inventory comes online and more people choose homeownership, thanks to lifestage, college debt reduction, family plans, and, yes, rent fatigue.