By TOM WALSH and BRYAN PAPPAS, Associated PressA cold front and a snowstorm that blanketed much of the Northeast in late November and early December sent cold air into the Midwest, prompting some apartment owners to seek more spacious space, prompting an exodus of rental listings.
The cold, wet weather and snowstorm also left many landlords to scramble to fill vacancy listings, which were already high and difficult to fill.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported Monday that the national vacancy rate fell below 3.8% for the second consecutive month, the lowest since 2009, as fewer people moved into the country and fewer people stayed in their homes.
It also marked a sharp decline from a peak of 3.9% in November.
But many renters and landlords have been struggling to find rentals.
More than 1 million people were classified as short-term renters, or those who stayed in a two- or three-month period, the Census Bureau said.
They can be defined as short or longer-term rental workers, or renters who stay for less than one year.
The number of such short-time renters is expected to decline further as the labor market tightens and the economy recovers.
Some people who stayed for two months or less were more likely to be short-timers, as were more people who had already made significant money during that time.
The Census Bureau also found that the share of long-term rentals dropped to 25.3%, the lowest level since March 2012.
Many people who left are still looking for a rental, or are renting out their properties for short periods, the census said.
The survey showed that a record 6.2 million people left their homes for work or school in December.
The Census Bureau report also showed that rents fell for all age groups except for renters aged 25-34.
But rents in those groups fell slightly, with the median rent for renters 35 and older down 0.5% to $1,846.
“Inflation is still below the 2% average and the unemployment rate is not that high,” said Michael O’Hanlon, president of O’Connor Rentals, which provides rental assistance to low-income seniors and disabled adults.
“It’s a good time to be a rental tenant, but the rent growth is slowing and landlords are seeing the effects of the downturn on their bottom line.”
For many people, it’s a tough time to find rental space.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that more than 3.2m U.T.A. students are unemployed, the highest level in three years, while 3.6m people have stopped working and are not looking for work.
The census also found a drop in home values.
The average home value in the Northeast was down 0,812 units or 8.1% from a year earlier.
The median home value was $315,400, down 1.2% from $319,400 in November, according to the survey.
For a long time, the Northeast had seen its most expensive housing market, but it has been slowing since the Great Recession and has since recovered, according the Census.
The median home price in the region rose to $319.3 million in October from $308.4 million a year ago, according with the survey, up about 10% from the year before.
The National Association of Realtors, which represents landlords and home sellers, said the cold weather and cold housing market has been a drag on home sales.
“We are not seeing a strong market in this market, and the cold has been one of the biggest factors slowing sales in the last two months,” said Steve Schulze, the association’s vice president of sales.
“The winter weather has also been a problem.
It’s not snowing, it is still in the mountains, and we are still seeing a lot of snow.”
The Census data also showed the average monthly rent in the Midwest declined 0.2%, to $634.20, the second straight month that it has declined.
Average rent was $564.40 for a one-bedroom in December, the most since September 2008.
The Northeast median was $3,743.00.
The Midwest was $2,737.40, the Midwest median was the lowest in seven years.
The national rental vacancy rate for October was 3.3%.
In the Midwest it was 3% compared with a national rate of 6.3% a year prior.
The number of new rentals nationwide fell to 8.9 million from 8.6 million a month earlier, according Census data.
The lowest number since April 2016, when 8.5 million new rentals were added.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis said in a report on Monday that more Americans moved into their homes last month than in any month since the end of the recession.
The increase was driven largely by the strong