St. Louis Fed CEO suggests long-term shift may favor renting

Apartment owners may witness a change in American housing due to different generational perceptions of homeownership, according to James Bullard, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

At the recent U.S. Monetary Policy Forum in New York City, Bullard noted that the aftermath of the housing bubble has left many Americans with heavy mortgage debt and may have had a severe enough impact to cause a permanent change in attitudes.

"The current cohorts of new homebuyers likely see homeownership as a fundamentally riskier proposition than earlier cohorts, and therefore may be more likely to rent than own," he said. "Such a theory may suggest a more permanent shift to renting."

If this does occur, it is possible that there will be more prolonged interest in apartments among currently young adults, when compared to past generations. That might necessitate more extensive multifamily construction in order to meet demand.

Rental property management companies would also need to take the changing tastes and needs of renters into account as they grow older, since age is typically a factor associated with changes in housing needs and desires.