Atlanta suburbs home to fastest-growing rental population

by Andrew Morrell

Renting has long been more popular than homeownership in some areas, but it’s increasingly shifting from a strictly urban phenomenon to a suburban one. According to data analyzed by RENTCafé, the Atlanta metro area is home to half of the 10 fastest-growing suburban rental markets. This may be a reflection of the national trend toward renting rather than owning a home, especially given the recent rise of detached home rentals in some parts of the U.S.

Using Census Bureau data and other figures from Yardi Matrix, RENTCafé ranked Chamblee, Ga. as the “top trending” suburb in the nation for rentals. Located in the northeastern corner of the Atlanta area, Chamblee has seen its renter population grow by 156 percent over the last five years. In that time, average rents have grown 44 percent to $1,413 per month as of RENTCafé’s most recent reading. That’s pretty close to rents in Atlanta proper, which average $1,423 per month.

Other Atlanta suburbs with high renter growth rates over the last five years included:

  • Norcross: 148 percent increase
  • Clarkston: 97 percent increase
  • Johns Creek: 79 percent increase
  • Lilburn: 67 percent

Atlanta’s status as a rental hotspot isn’t surprising, given the high level of investment there from single-family rental companies. The Wall Street Journal reported in July that the Atlanta metro topped the list of cities with the most homes owned by institutional investors, with nearly 33,500 at last count. The next most popular metros for single-family rental properties, Phoenix and Miami, had less than half that number.

Renter households across all property types have grown faster than the number of home-owning households in the last 10 years. Economists speculate that Americans today are more reluctant to own a home due to higher costs and still-fresh memories of the 2008 housing crisis. At the same time, a group of investment firms capitalized on the surge of foreclosures that followed that crisis, buying up homes at bargain prices and then marketing them as rentals. As may be the case in Atlanta, these rentals cater to residents who prefer suburban detached homes or who can’t afford a centrally located urban apartment.