New Mapping Tool Reveals Renter Hot Spots


Apartments go through trends and phases, like any other industry. Some 20 years ago, the apartment model was very suburban and sprawling. Today, as a new breed of renters emerges, more urban and walkable neighborhoods closely located to work, shopping and entertainment are desired.

But it still gets down to the old real estate adage of location, location, location. Where housing is built, whether it is for homeowners or multifamily renters, ultimately determines where neighborhoods exist and how well they thrive.

Mapping Tool can be Vital for Demographic Research

A new mapping tool, called the Census Explorer, released recently by the Census Bureau through its American Community Survey (ACS) gives an in-depth look into American communities and who lives in homes they own and where renters live. Basically, the tool identifies areas high and low in concentration of homes owned through a color-coded map.

Image of DFW Apartment Market using Census Explorer Mapping Tool

The Dallas-Fort Worth area shows neighborhoods with varying home-ownership levels


The tool, a product of the latest ACS which spans 2007-2012, makes it possible to get a birds-eye view of neighborhoods by county to compare several demographics from median household income to those who hold college degrees. But property owners will be particularly interested in one breakdown: the percentage of owner occupied properties.

That statistic also tells us the percentage of renters and where they are leasing all over the country, based on information drawn from the 1990 and 2000 census.

Discover Regional Rent vs. Own Ratios and More

As you may imagine, renters tend to live in urban areas where rental housing availability is abundant and more affordable. Of course, the data varies from city to city, and there are some interesting comparisons and contrasts for the owner/rental makeup for some urban areas.

For example, some of the nation’s largest states have fewer owners than renters. California, Texas, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, are 45-65 percent owner occupied. Interestingly, much smaller Hawaii, Massachusetts and Rhode Island fall into the same category. And, as no surprise, so does New York.

Also, of major cities, renting is more likely closer to the water in San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, Miami and New York City. The same is true along the Mississippi River in St. Louis − which is included in a stretch of fewer owner occupied homes along the river from the boot of Missouri into the swamps of Louisiana − and along Lake Michigan in Detroit. Not far from Houston, however, the coast has fewer rental homes.

What states have the fewest renters? West Virginia (26.3 percent) and Minnesota (27 percent).

Certainly, every market is different and the tool tells us some of which is already known in the apartment industry. But it’s worth a look and keeping as a reference.

Learn more about the demographics surrounding your apartment communities and property portfolios with Census Explorer. Then come back here and share your thoughts in the comments below.



Contributor, Property Management Insider

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Michael Cunningham is Content Marketing Manager at ProofHQ, and the former Managing Editor of He worked as a social media manager for RealPage, Inc., a provider of on-demand software solutions that integrate and streamline single-family and a wide variety of multifamily rental property management business functions. He is responsible for promoting the company through various media channels, including editorial, print and online advertising, and social media. Michael received his education at Indiana University where he majored in English.

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