Most people probably read only the headline at the various sources, including a blog at The Wall Street Journal, that reported on a recent CoreLogic study (pdf). It’s a striking headline: “Study: Rentals in Houses Outnumber Those in Towers.”
It’s also a very misleading headline, in that it describes all 1- to 4-unit buildings as “single-family.” The Journal post begins with an even more misleading statement:
Here’s a fun fact about the housing market: There are more rentals in houses than apartment buildings.
According to the US Census Bureau’s 2009 American Housing Survey, there were 3,010,700 occupied housing units in the Chicago metro area, of which 952,500 were renter occupied. The renter-occupied units included 125,700 detached single-family homes, 32,500 attached single-family homes (townhomes) and 280,000 units in 2- to 4-unit buildings.
Drilling down to the City of Chicago you’ll find 32,800 renter-occupied detached single-family homes, 6,300 attached rental single-families and 197,800 rental units in 2- to 4-unit buildings. That is, in fact, a bare majority of the 472,400 rental units in the City of Chicago, but single-family homes and townhomes are only 8.3% of the total..