Bankrate - Renters hit with above-average price growth in 2015

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By Crissinda Ponder ·

Rental rates rose nearly 5% during 2015, according to new data released this month.

MPF Research says 2015 was the 6th consecutive year of rent increases at or higher than the 2.7% norm. Over the last 6 years, rent prices have increased by 22.5%.

"Continuing strong rent growth reflects the fact that product availability remains unusually low," Greg Willett, chief economist at MPF Research's parent company RealPage, says in a statement.

In the country's largest 100 metros, the average apartment rental rate is $1,244 per month. The occupancy rate stood at 95.8% in the 4th quarter of 2015.

New buyers want flexibility

Separate research shows that millennials would appreciate flexibility when buying a home.

More than two-thirds of young adult renters would get a mortgage sooner if they had the means to protect their down payment funds, according to a survey commissioned by Dallas-based firm ValueInsured. Additionally, 81% think down payment protection would boost homebuying confidence for more consumers.

9 in 10 of them say it's important to eventually own a home, however.

"The 'American Dream' is alive and well, except that it's changed and it's evolved," says Joe Melendez, founder and CEO at ValueInsured.

He says that millennials would like to have a homeownership experience that matches their typically "nomadic" lifestyle. For example, they're not working at the same job for 30 years so likely won't stay in the same home for that long.

Down payment protection?

Nearly a third of millennial renters aren't confident that they would get back their full down payment if they bought a home and needed to sell it just a few years after the purchase.

This is where having down payment protection comes in handy, Melendez says, especially for those potential buyers who have been on the fence for a while, due to apprehensions about committing to a mortgage.

"Our product, by being able to provide protection for a homebuyer's down payment against risk of loss, we give them that flexibility, that control, the empowerment, to own a home -- to own a home on their terms," he says.

ValueInsured's down payment protection product reimburses homeowners up to the full amount of their down payment in the event of housing market turmoil, according to its website.

The company's survey was conducted by Harris Poll and included 2,019 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Among them were 1,209 homeowners and 746 renters.

Rents are skyrocketing. Learn how to negotiate with your landlord to keep your rent earthbound.

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