According to a new report from HotPads, U.S. renters paid a record $504.4 billion in rent in 2018, topping 2017’s total by $12.6 billion.
According to the report, there were approximately 43.2 million renter households in the U.S. this year, nearly 100,000 less than there were in 2017.
But despite that decrease, renters still paid out a record high total in rent in 2018, more than the entire GDP of Belgium ($494.7 billion), as rents rose throughout the year.
According to the HotPads report, the current median rent is $1,475, up 3% from a year ago.
In fact, the total rent increased year-over-year in nearly every major market included in HotPads report, with only Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Austin, Texas; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma showing yearly declines in total rent paid out.
Of the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S., renters in the New York City metro area spent the most on rent this year – a total of $55.6 billion, which represents more than 10% of the entire national total.
Other markets are still seeing hefty increases, especially those in the Southeast and Southwest.
And with rents forecasted to continue growing in 2019, driven by higher mortgage interest rates likely keeping some renters from becoming buyers, that total will likely increase next year.
“After several years of a booming economy, more Millennials became financially able to become home owners in 2018,” Joshua Clark, economist at HotPads, said.
“However, rent affordability continues to be a challenge, as those who still rent are paying even higher prices now than they were a year ago,” Clark continued.