As lockdowns sent city dwellers "fleeing" to the suburbs for more space, the prices of homes offering that space took off. To play in the bidding wars, homebuyers had to cough up big money and chain themselves to giant mortgages. This painful scenario led many to choose renting over buying, and that's not a bad thing.

Why can't the American dream of a detached house with a family room be rented instead, like an apartment? Actually, it can. Houses have been available for rent forever, but now real estate investors are building entire subdivisions for the purpose of renting, not selling, the homes.

For generations, the real estate industry has promoted a cult of homeownership, portraying it as a rite of passage for the upwardly mobile. Realtors pushed it. Lenders pushed it. Developers pushed it. And so did the government, with easy mortgages.

Perhaps the glamorization of hipster urban living, where renting is commonplace, helped make leasing a more respectable alternative.

New subdivisions of single-family rented homes may offer high-end amenities, such as fitness centers, pools and walking trails. As described in The Wall Street Journal, Las Casas at Windrose, a Phoenix suburb development, is a gated community whose homes come with the HGTV perks — granite counters, stainless steel appliances, fenced-in backyards. And the houses are all rentals.

What are the advantages of renting? Many of the new rental developments provide lawn mowing and other maintenance services that homeowners must provide themselves. Renters who decide they want to move on can move out with minimal fuss.

Life is simpler. Renters don't receive bills for property taxes and plumbing repairs. These costs, of course, get tacked onto the rent, but renters don't have to burn brain cells figuring out what they should be paying to repave the driveway or for home insurance.

And if today's renters eventually decide that homeownership is the preferred course, they will have the luxury of waiting for the right property at the right price. These real estate frenzies never last forever.

But should former city folk find they miss their urban haunts — and the boss wants them back in the office — renters can just give the landlord notice. Homeowners, by contrast, would have to unload a property they own, which is expensive, stressful and not optimal when others are unloading at the same time.

Of course, demand for rental homes has caused rents to rise as well. In fast-growing Reno, Nev., for example, a 1,500-square-foot house that would have rented for $1,800 half a year ago now goes for around $2,500 a month, according to a real estate agent there.

As noted earlier, renting makes sense for those hesitant to enter wild housing markets where offers rocket past the asking prices. Also boosting rents are those needing a temporary residence as they actively house-hunt or wait for a home to be built.

In this gig-based economy, it was inevitable that entrepreneurs would come up with apps that bridge the divide between a traditional rental and a few days in an Airbnb. Landing, for one, rents out spiffy furnished spaces, soft sheets included, for even just a month. The rental fees are 30% to 40% above the market rate, but hey, Landing makes it easy for well-heeled nomads to try out Boston for a couple of months, Dallas for one and then move on, say, to Denver.

For sure, this is a different kind of American dream than the Cape Cod home with the vintage Formica countertops and a deed, but we're in a different kind of America. And it's a place where renting, happily, is now getting the respect it deserves.

(15) comments

bootsielawson

Driller, you continue to bring up the reporter. How uninformed you are of your hero. This criminal was best buds with the architect of your heroes who killed over 3000 Americans that infamous day and yet you mourn this war criminal's rightful death! Why are dummokkkrats so uninformed? MSM of course

LVW

Are you/he talking about Daniel Pearl of the Wall Street Journal or someone else?

bootsielawson

Surprised she didn't get climate change in the column. That's their reply to everything!.

Donald

While Ms. Harrop is probably doomed to forever be unable to leap a synaptic gap in a single bound she is able to parrot surface-level globalist notions. In this case ‘climate change’ underlies the “rent everything, own nothing” basis for a proposed mandatory “circular economy” as envisioned in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. So, in a way, she did include “climate cooling/warming/change/disruption”.

Donald

By the way, Mr. bootsielawson, if you wish to understand what Mr. Biden’s handlers mean when they have him mouth “build back better” you need only review the proposed global “Great Reset”. It is basically a blueprint for those running the Harris-Biden ticket.

prodigalson

Typical Demokkkrat thinking. Instant gratification of renting as opposed to the permanence and wealth building potential of home ownership. These are the same people who believe that the government should take care of them cradle to grave. The Demokkkrat party is pure evil.

Driller

prod, Funny you should complain about people that think government should take care of them from cradle to grave. I'd love to see your family history, since they made it to America. I'd bet you would see a lot of government, church, or university handouts given to you and your family. Again, I'll tell you what proven pure evil is, you're Saudi Countrymen brothers flying planes into the Twin Towers killing thousands of Americans and killing a reporter and cutting him up. That is what proven pure evil is. Have a nice day and I know you appreciate my kind words, my messed up Saudi Brother.

DeftCurmudgeon

Governments, churches and universities do not create wealth, they can only redistribute that which has been given them by producers either voluntarily (churches, diploma mills) or through coercion (governments) so there's that.

prodigalson

Excellent point Deft.

prodigalson

Good afternoon Driller, and thank you for your kind, gracious, and life giving words. Tell us Driller, do you own your house trailer in West Virginia, or do you rent it?

LVW

Yes, but homeownership is the top contributor to household wealth (followed by having a retirement account). While it might make it easier to move, renting is like paying a mortgage without building up any equity.

DeftCurmudgeon

Yep, and my home is a substantial chunk of what I plan to leave for my kids.

Donald

I think we all know selling a residence to extract equity is a form of systemic racism and the exercising of White privilege, Mr. LVW, and should only be allowed if the equity is redistributed to historically marginalized BIPOC communities. You will be happier as a renter anyway.[whistling]

prodigalson

Oh Donald, your words are so poetic and beautiful, I found myself tearing up as I read your post.

Donald

[beam]

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.