The 7 biggest rental market trends for 2023 (and how to get your business ready for them)

Laurie Mega
Laurie Mega | 8 min. read
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Published on November 23, 2022

In the last two years, predicting rental real estate market trends has been nearly impossible. As a result, many of property managers’ business plans were reactionary, keeping their businesses afloat amid lockdowns, record inflation, panicked residents, and a supply shortage on practically everything. 

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As we get ready for 2023, we are waiting to see if the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates to rein in inflation. That leaves rental market predictions a bit tough to make, but there are some clear trends coming to the fore.

In this article, we’ll break down seven of the biggest rental market trends we’ve seen based on our own 2023 Property Management Industry Report and the analyses of some of the leading real estate sources in the industry.

With each trend, we’ll give you advice on how to get your property management business ready to handle it.

1. More Investment-Minded Owners in the Rental Real Estate Market

According to the 2023 Property Management Industry Report published by Buildium, Propertyware, and NARPM, 52% of rental owners surveyed consider themselves intentional investors, while just 24% think of themselves as accidental landlords—those who own or inherited a property they couldn’t sell and so had to rent out—or unintentional investors, who became landlords by accident, but now consider themselves investors. That marks a significant increase in the share of investors that are a part of property managers’ client base over the last five years.

With more investment-minded owners in their client base, property managers have had to pivot their own service offerings. Instead of landlords who just need a professional to handle maintenance, rent collection, and tenant turnover, more owners want a partner in their investment strategy. 

Many property managers now advise their clients on property upgrades and services to increase value and portfolio expansion. Being experts in their local market, some investors rely on their property manager to find properties in which to invest.

Think about the services you currently offer. How could you capitalize on your team’s expertise to meet the demands of more investment-minded rental owners? Could you partner with a local contractor to offer property upgrades, or build your own team in-house, for example? Then, rethink your marketing strategy to ensure your new service offerings are included.

2. Mixed-Use Properties Are Back

While mixed-use properties—those that include a blend of residential, retail/entertainment, and business properties—lost some ground during the pandemic, the trend is making a comeback as construction gets underway once more.

According to Price Waterhouse Cooper’s (PwC) Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2023, of the 1,300 malls in the U.S., 500 of them are undergoing renovation into mixed-use spaces. The properties offer plenty of attractive features for residents, including easy access to restaurants, shops, and entertainment, as well as essentials such as grocery stores and medical centers.

Mixed-use properties may be worth a look for investment-minded property managers, particularly those who have the staff and resources to add commercial spaces to their portfolios.

Even if mixed-use is not on your radar, in terms of your clientele, it’s still worth knowing how those properties could affect your current portfolio. For example, properties near a mixed-use complex will benefit from the convenience of being near so many shops, restaurants, and other resources.

3. The Suburbs and Single-Family Rentals Are Still Attractive

Both PwC and Buildium’s Industry Report point to the continued popularity of single-family rentals. According to the Industry Report, 68% of respondents lived in suburban or rural areas, which has steadily increased over the last five years. They’re looking for:

  • A safe, quiet, family-friendly neighborhood
  • The indoor and outdoor space that allows them to grow their families, whether that means welcoming children, pets, or other family members
  • A child-friendly home that provides air conditioning, a washer and dryer, and a dishwasher

Property managers with single-family properties in their portfolios can attract residents by providing these amenities.

One thing property managers should keep in mind, however, is the amount of debt and lack of savings single-family renters tend to have. In our Single-Family Renter’s Survey, we found that single-family renters had larger families to support, less savings and more debt. As the economy continues to slide as we move toward 2023, it’s important to keep in constant communication with residents and to work with those who may be affected by the current economic climate.

4. Record Inflation Will Most Likely Continue in 2023

From food to gas to home heating fuel, everything costs more now. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, inflation is now at a 40-year high. Despite the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, the cost of living is still rising as we move into 2023.

According to the 2023 Property Management Industry Report, 26% of renter respondents paid most bills on time and in full and 11% reported that they’re struggling to keep up with their household expenses.

During the height of the pandemic, property managers found that open lines of communication between themselves and their residents helped ease the burden of missed rent payments. Those lines will continue to play a vital role in your property management strategy. Property managers can continue to help residents find government assistance programs, for example. 

At the same time, rising costs will affect how property managers keep their businesses profitable, as well. Look at your vendor costs and overhead, for example, to see where you can renegotiate contracts or find more economic solutions. 

5. Mortgage Interest Rates May Continue to Rise

In early November, the Fed raised interest rates for the fourth time in 2022 to just over 7%. The Nasdaq is predicting that they could reach as high as 9% in 2023. The dramatic increase has forced Americans who were looking to become homeowners to reconsider, and continue to rent.

Property managers should keep an eye on the Fed to see how mortgage rates net out in the coming months and adjust their marketing and resident onboarding strategies to keep vacancy rates at a minimum.

6. Renters Are Now Coming from Multiple Age Groups

Baby Boomers, who don’t want the hassle of keeping up a house, now make up a significant portion of renters in the U.S. At the same time, more Millennials, the largest generation in the U.S., enter the housing market every year, usually as renters first.

For property managers, that will mean a shift in the types of housing and services they provide their residents. Older residents, for example, will look for accessibility and convenience to help them age at home. Elevators, ramps, safety rails in bathrooms, and other ADA-compliant equipment are sought-after features in rental properties.

Communications, marketing, and amenities will also shift. Residents—even Baby Boomers—will be looking for more convenience, more digital options for communication and rent payment, as well as services that cater to multiple generations within a household.

7. Renters Are Looking for Diversified Space

The shift to work-from-home and the increased number of families as renters will continue to have an effect on the types of spaces renters are looking for. According to PwC and our Industry Report, more residents want:

  • Homes with an extra room or flex space: Owners are borrowing space from larger open rooms to create smaller private spaces, or adding an office in dead space off a hallway.
  • Units with outdoor space: That doesn’t necessarily mean a large yard. Outdoor spaces could be a simple patio or a small garden.
  • A mix of public and private spaces: For example, a home may have a larger kitchen and living room with adjacent food prep spaces or book nooks.

As 2023 draws closer, the buzz around rental market predictions becomes louder, and the opportunities for property managers and owners to invest in, improve, and expand their properties become more apparent.

For more detailed information on coming rental real estate trends for 2023, check out our full 2023 Property Management Industry Report.

Read more on Industry Intel
Laurie Mega

Laurie Mega has planned, written, and edited content on a variety of subjects. Her work has been published by HomeandGarden.com, The Economist, Philips Lifeline, and FamilyEducation, among others. She lives in the Greater Boston Area with her husband and two boys.

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