The rent is (still) too damn high

Several years ago, a bearded politician with a catchy slogan and unique look, James McMillan III won the hearts of many New Yorkers if not their votes with his passionate refrain: “The rent is too damn high.”

McMillan is not getting the attention he once did as a candidate sharing the debate stage with some of America’s most recognizable political figures but the issue he raised should still be very much a part of our collective concern.

According to some measurements, the national average rent increased over 20 percent year-over-year at one point in 2021, the highest spike on record.

The nationwide average monthly rent in 2020 was $1,164 ($1,225 with average rental inflation). The median rent in 2020 was $1,104 ($1,162 adjusted for inflation).

Average rent across N.J. has soared by nearly 33 percent year over year, according to a May 2022 survey by Rent.com.

As pandemic-related federal rent relief funds run out and programs start winding down, evictions are increasing across the country. In a typical year, landlords file 3.7 million eviction cases but now some cities have eviction filing rates reaching 150-200 percent of pre-pandemic averages.

“There’s no limit on landlords’ ability to use the courts to evict people,” said Peter Hepburn from Princeton’s Eviction Lab. “And there’s less incentive for them to try an alternative because the money that was there — that could make them whole again, that could pay back rent — is no longer there in a lot of cases.”

Home sale prices are also rising but with banks tightening credit and interest rates going up, the real estate markets could be heading for tough times in the near future. Rising mortgage rates and economic uncertainty have some people questioning the market.

Millions of Americans have yet to recover from losses during the 2008 mortgage crisis and both stagnant wages and inflation are making it difficult for new homebuyers to save up for a down payment.

The United States has experienced an unprecedented housing boom caused largely by the Covid pandemic.

Demand for homes in certain markets increased exponentially especially as companies loosened or eliminated rules about from where employees had to work.

Sales of new single-family homes slowed through April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000 units, according to the US Census Bureau. That was well below the 750,000 home sales that economists had forecast, reflecting a nearly 17 percent slowdown from the prior month’s rate.

Nationwide, one in every 4,580 housing units had a foreclosure filing in April 2022, and New Jersey has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

States with the highest foreclosure rates were New Jersey (one in every 2,292 housing units); Illinois (one in every 2,341 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Ohio (one in every 2,585 housing units); Indiana (one in every 2,660 housing units); and Nevada (one in every 3,043 housing units).

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