I have spent a fair time contemplating this issue. Sometimes people rent because they can't buy. Perhaps they lack a downpayment, or the credit score to obtain a loan. But these people are not those that are renting the expensive luxury units on the waterfront of Downtown. Buildings like Holland's Coen and Columbia, the new Aria, Riverwest, and Rediviva all have strict income and credit requirements that likely match those of a mortgage lender, they might even be tighter. So these renters are clearly choosing to rent.
Those that are capable of buying but choose to rent fall into a number of possible categories.
- Short term residents: Sometimes a highly paid person has a project they are overseeing in an area and want to live in a nice place while they finish the contracted project.
- Leery of buying: There is a group of people that are old enough to remember the last hard crash in 2009-2011 but too young to remember the boom bust cycle of real estate and economics. real estate is nearly always a good long term investment, not so much short term.
- Do not want the responsibility of ownership: There are people who simply do not want to invest the time and money into maintaining a home they own. Even condos have some interior maintenance issues, but honestly this one is tough to reconcile.
- Mobility: This was an oft cited reason young professional millennials cited for not buying in a series of well reported studies over the last few years.