According to Rental Protection Agency’s (RPA) real-time Rental Clock, there were more than 113 million renters and more than 23 million landlords in the U.S. as of Oct. 7, 2019. RPA also reports that 2,654 new tenants enter the rental market every day, compared to the daily new landlord tally of just 544.
With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that property management companies are booming in today’s market and will continue to flourish down the pike.
So what is the driving force behind the property management industry’s ascendency in the residential real estate market?
Below are four reasons why property management businesses are prospering in today’s market:
Data collected by the United States Census Bureau reflects rent prices have steadily increased since the 1990s with no significant fluctuations. Even during the 2008-2011 recession as the for-sale home market tanked, rental asking prices continued to increase steadily.
For-sale prices, on the other hand, fluctuate dramatically in response to a variety of influences like market volatility and swings in nation-wide housing markets. During the recession, for-sale home asking prices dropped nearly $50,000.
Rental properties are significantly less risky than flip properties for real estate investors, plus they provide the opportunity to earn passive income that many investors desire. As first-time and experienced real estate investors hustle to take advantage of the statistical security a buy-and-hold strategy offers, property management companies will benefit from the growing demand for their services.
Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau that 31.5 percent of occupied houses are rentals. While owner-occupied homes account for 56 percent of the market, that gap is shrinking and rental vacancy rates have been decreasing steadily since 2009. In contrast, home ownership rates reached a 50-year low in 2017 and, according to Crain’s Cleveland, and fell to the lowest level since 2017 in July of this year as rising home prices and a short supply of starter homes put buying out of reach for many renters.
For both real estate investors and property management companies, this means increased profits as Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Zers elect to rent instead of buy. As demand for rental properties continues to increase and investors proceed to fill that gap, demand for property management companies will continue to grow.
As the lucrative property management industry continues to grow exponentially, shrewd tech businesses have kept up with demand for software to assist efficiency. Property management is a tough business—it’s a physically and mentally demanding, 24-7 type of business model. If and when anything unexpected happens at a rental property—a pipe bursts, the HVAC system quits, a water leak starts gushing—the property management team is responsible to take care of it immediately, day or night. That requires the property management company to have skilled, reliable staff near each managed location, an efficient strategy for communicating with tenants, employees, and local contractors, and a system for managing everything behind the scene.
Tools like Appfolio (a property management platform for long-term rentals) and Guesty (for short-term rentals) provide property managers with the ability to automate tasks, streamline communications with homeowners, tenants, and guests, schedule maintenance and unit cleaning services, and organize portfolios easily from a laptop, tablet, or mobile device.
In 2016, Vacation Rental Marketing Blog (VRMB) predicted that by 2020, vacation rentals would eclipse the hotel industry. While hotels remain abundant in every U.S. city in 2019, it appears that VRMB may have been inordinately hasty with their forecast, they weren’t entirely off-track. For instance, Airbnb is currently the second-largest lodging company in the world—trailing Marriott International by a mere 100,000 units according to str (formerly Smith Travel Research). And as of October 2019, Airbnb has acquired 150 million users, boasting more than two million guests in Airbnb accommodations every night. Travelers who’ve stayed in an Airbnb rental are motivated by the practical benefits (low cost, convenient locations, and household amenities) are increasingly less likely to go back to hotels. This equates to heightened demand for property management services for vacation rental properties.
There’s no telling whether vacation rentals will completely eradicate the hotel industry, although they’ve clearly disrupted the hotel industry. But make no mistake, vacation rentals are a driving force in the hospitality industry. Additionally, hotels don’t need property management teams to oversee their properties, vacation rental investors often do, creating yet another market of opportunity for entrepreneurs adventurous enough to dive into the property management business.