Geographically dissecting SFR (Single Family Rental) demand in US




Since the recession, single-family rentals emerged as a promising resource for investment. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, renting has become greatly common due to rising housing prices, preference for flexibility, and higher lending rates. To add, the millennial generation is more likely to rent than buy compared to their previous generations. In this post, we explore the changes in the percentage of single-family rental households at the county level by using the Census data collected in 2012 and 2020.


Single-family homes are often found in suburban areas usually with a garage and a yard. These are different from other types of housing such as multi-family homes and apartment complexes. In this post, we particularly focus on the percentage of single-family rental households among all types of household units.

The map below shows the spatial distribution of counties that have experienced a large growth in single-family rental households. As shown on the map, the percentage of single-family rental households mainly increased in the south region, whereas there was less change in the west region. For instance, counties such as Greene (AL), Paulding (GA), Goochland (VA), Plaquemines Parish (LA), Henrico (VA), Lincoln (GA), and Douglas (GA) showed more than a 50% increase in the percentage of single-family rental households. This implies that these areas have experienced a large change in homeownership.

See below for the counties that have experienced a large growth in single-family rental households. The percentage of single-family rental households in Greene County (AL) was 6.66% in 2012 which increased to 15.11% as of 2020.

The percentage change in single-family rental households may not present the actual landscape of its demand. The map below shows the distribution of counties with a large percentage of single-family rental households as of 2020. What we can learn from the map below is that there is a large number of single-family rental households in the counties located in the west region. For instance, 23.26% of all households were single-family rental households in San Benito County (CA). This is almost double the average (12.21%).

While there are some recent reports that the growth of the single-family rental market is slowing down due to housing prices outpacing rent, our post shows the areas that experienced a large growth in single-family rental households over the last 10 years. The descriptive statistics show that the growth was mainly concentrated in the south and midwest region.


Q & A?


Jay Ha

Head of Urban Research

Doctoral student in Urban Planning at USC


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