United States rental rises at slowest in five years

Svenja Gudell and a rendering of an apartment on La Cienaga Boulevard

But last month, rents grew at their slowest pace in almost five years providing a bit of relief, according to the newly released Zillow March Real Estate Market Report.

Nationally, rates are still the highest they've ever been across the board, Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell said in a statement.

Zillow's monthly housing report says that in the Seattle metro area, which includes King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, the median home value is $426,300-up 11.6 percent from a year ago. Rents fell 1.1% in San Jose over last year, after rising almost 9% a year earlier.

Rents across the country rose 0.7% from last March, the slowest rate of appreciation since November 2012, as new construction began to meet renter demand and soften the market. In San Francisco, rents had risen nearly 10% from March 2015 to March 2016, but then flatlined.

Even in hot West Coast markets, where rental growth is notoriously strong, rent appreciation is starting to slow. In Seattle, rents are up 6.7 percent, but their pace of appreciation has been slowing since August 2016. A year ago at this time, rents were appreciating 5% annually.

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Zillow reports that in many major metros the share of income needed to pay rent "well surpasses" the suggested rule of not paying more than 30 percent of income on housing costs - like in Los Angeles, where the median rent takes up almost 50 percent of the median income, says Zillow.

And while the slowing of rent appreciation is certainly good news for renters, many who dream of becoming homeowners are still struggling to save money for a downpayment and continue to pay high rents. The comparison includes rents for apartments, homes and condos.

In contrast, the median home value nationwide was $196,500 in March, up 6.8 percent from one year earlier. The report saw a 17.2 percent decline in inventory-a even steeper year-over-year drop than in February. Rents fell 1.3% in NY over the prior 12 months with a median of $2,386.

Mortgage rates are down from their December highs, but still well above where they were before the election.

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