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Nearly half of renters wish they owned, study says (They also want to pay less rent)

The 15-story Icon Central Luxury Apartments at the corner of of Dr. MLK King Jr. St N and Central Ave in St. Petersburg, on May 29. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published Jul. 4

Homeownership may be famed for its headaches, from bidding wars to get in the door to the constant drumbeat of repairs around the house, but renters don't have it easy either. In fact, renters are the ones with more regrets, according to a recent Zillow Housing Aspirations Report.

One of their biggest regrets is being a renter in the first place. In this semiannual survey of 10,000 homeowners and renters in 20 of the country's largest metro areas, 45% regret renting rather than buying, which is more than five times the share of homeowners (8 percent) who regret buying instead of renting. If you long to own in a pricey place, finding a home sweet home can be a tall mountain to climb. Even with the recent softening of the real estate market, finding a place to hang your hat can be an ordeal.

Housing can also be an investment. The top regret for renters is not being able to build equity and not being able to customize or improve their rentals (52 percent), the report shows. After a while, feeling like your home doesn't reflect your personality can be a mood killer. The next biggest regret is all about dollars and cents. Half of renters wish the rent wasn't so steep. In a tight rental market, you can end up paying a lot of your income for rent. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is around $2,470, according to Apartment List.

Forty percent of renters also feel like their homes are too small (compared to 21% of homeowners) and 49% believe that they lack private outdoor space (compared to 25% of homeowners.) Of course renters also don't have to fertilize the lawn, trim the trees and rake up all the leaves.

In major cities, 87% of renters have at least one regret about their home, compared to 72% of homeowners. The metro with the largest share of renters reporting at least one regret is Phoenix (93 percent), followed by San Francisco (92 percent) and San Jose (91 percent).

The good news is that, like homeowners, renters tend to become less regretful with age. A whopping 90% of renters ages 18 to 34 have at least one regret about their rental but that number slips to 82% by the 55 and up category.

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