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'Volunteer Renters' Are on the Rise in Lehigh Valley

Volunteer Renters

Digested from “Apartment living all the rage in the Lehigh Valley”
The Morning Call (12/19/15) Shortell, Tom, and Harris, Jon

Recent graduates in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania are focusing on easy commutes and paying down student debts, which is leading them toward apartment living and away from homeownership. Developments across the area reflect this demand.

Officials approved plans for 1,117 residences in 2014, almost 60 percent of which were apartment homes. Plans for single-family homes, on the other hand, have dropped considerably since the housing boom; only 215 homes were approved last year, compared with 866 in 2007.

“This is the first time we had apartments take over the single-family housing market, the first time since World War II,” said Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Becky Bradley.

Millennials are the primary driver of this shift. They are reluctant to invest in homeownership as they frequently change jobs to move ahead in a stagnant economy. And empty-nesters are increasingly interested in downsizing.

Luxury apartments are catering to “volunteer renters” — those who choose to rent rather than own. High-end units, however, may make it more difficult for younger residents who eventually plan to own to save for a down payment. 

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