More than a third of Denver-metro area rents, yet a stigma still attached to not owning a home

A growing number of people rent, including more high-income households. And the new luxury apartments going up in Denver and other cities are loaded with high-end finishes, amenities and easy access to activities that most homeowners can only dream about.

But old attitudes toward renting die hard.

A survey of 5,000 people conducted by Apartment List found a significant share of the population, about three in 10 people, attached a stigma to renting.

Some of the terms used to marginalize renters by survey respondents included “transient,” “poorer,” “second-class citizens,” “less successful,” “not fully invested,” and “wasting their money.”

About 34 percent of renters and 28 percent of homeowners agreed that renting in America, something 109 million people do, carries a stigma, according to the survey.

“I was surprised to find that the perception of renter stigma was at least as high among young people and respondents in cities or urban cores of large metros,” said Igor Popov, chief economist with Apartment List.

Popov had expected city dwellers and young adults would have the most favorable view of renting, given that they were more likely to rent. But that wasn’t the case. Adults over the age of 60 and rural residents were the most accommodative on the topic.

RELATED: Denver is the most expensive city to rent an apartment in the metro area. Find out what cities are the cheapest.

About 51 percent of Denver’s population rents, compared to 35.4 percent of the overall population in the larger metro area, Popov said. The survey didn’t drill down to differences in attitudes by metro area.

The stigma against renting appears to be rooted in people’s strong conviction that homeownership is critical for achieving personal success, 86 percent, and for financial security, 87 percent. About 82 percent of homeowners believe that owning their place is saving them money, while 62 percent of renters felt they were losing money by renting.

For many, the decision is a no-brainer, and more a question of being able to pull it off. But Popov argues that renters can come out ahead financially if they invest what they would have spent on a downpayment and monthly mortgage principal into a diversified investment portfolio.

And it wasn’t that long ago, last decade, when a large number of homebuyers impoverished themselves taking on loans they couldn’t afford on overpriced homes.

Renters also gain flexibility when it comes to pursuing job offers and advancing their careers, something that can allow them to earn more over time and build greater wealth.

“Our survey found that renters are significantly more likely to consider attractive job offers that would require relocation,” Popov said.

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The survey also found a higher perception of anti-renting sentiment among those who were in a tight financial spot, whether they rented or owned.

Homeowners who felt they were losing money following a home purchase had the highest perception of renters being marginalized of any group — 55 percent.

“These 55 percent could represent homeowners who are willing to pay a premium just to avoid renting and the stigma associated with it,” according to the report. In short, the strong desire to feel better about their situation might have driven people in that group to make an unsound decision.

But renters who stretched and sacrificed each month to pay the rent also were also much more likely to attach a stigma to renting, 40 percent, than those who had an easier time covering the rent, 29 percent.

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