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Which US markets are showing improved rental affordability?

In the previous post, we looked at residential rent affordability at the city-level by the rent-to-income ratio. In this post, let's look at the changes in median rent and median income between 2017 and 2020. The following are the top 20 cities with the highest median rent increases over the past three years. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA also had the highest increase of 7%.

Table 1. Top 20 cities: 3-years-rent-growth

And here are the top 20 cities with the highest growth in median income.

Table 2. Top 20 cities: 3-years-income-growth

Now, we see the median rent and median income growth rates in the 20 cities with the highest rent-to-income ratio in the previous post.

Among 126 cities, the average increase of median income was 3.93%, and the average increase of median rent was 3.45%. Of the top 20 cities with rent-to-income ratios in the previous post, 12 cities had more than average income growth, and 14 cities had more than average rent growth.

Table 3. income and rent growth of top 20 cities from previous posting

So, among the top 20 rent-to-income ratio cities, are there any cities with improved affordability? We assume that a greater increase in income than a rent increase indicates better affordability.

Of top-20-rent-to-income cities, 6 cities had a rent-income increase difference of more than 1%, and College Station-Bryan, TX (1.85%p), Fayetteville, NC (1.65%p), Tallahassee, FL (1.38%p) have greater income increase than rent increase, and in Corpus Christi, TX (-1.33%p), Naples-Marco Island, FL (-1.25%p), Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL (-1.16%p) have less income increase than rent increase.

This time, we ranked the cities in which the affordability situation is improving among 126 cities. The following table shows the top 20 cities where income growth is greater than rent growth. We estimated that affordability is improving for Warner Robins, GA (3.79%p), Athens-Clarke County, GA (3.04%p), and Greenville, NC (2.89%p), based on the three-year change in the short term.

Table 4. Top 20 cities that have affordability improved

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