Early Signs of a Rental Market Bubble: “Grab That Apartment Before the Rent Spikes”

Dynamic pricing, long the norm for airline tickets — the same computer-generated practice responsible for hour-to-hour price shifts for hotel rooms and goods sold on Amazon.com — has come to bear on the nation’s housing markets. Day-to-day increases and decreases, worth hundreds of dollars, are not out of the ordinary in many rental markets. Society must decide: Are such trends genuinely reflective of market demands or are high-speed revenue management programs also driving market trends in much the same way high-frequencey trading has been criticized for spawning stock market volatility?

Key Questions:

1) Does the emergence of dynamic pricing in the real estate sector allude to a sophisticated means of price fixing and collusion?

2) Should we amend laws pertaining to “unfair advantage” to account for novel forms of technology — to compensate for the reality that ordinary consumers are no match for a multimillion-dollar computer algorithms?

3) We might be able to walk away from an over-priced hotel room or airline ticket — to vote with our pocketbooks. But we don’t have the luxury of skipping out on necessities like food and housing. Should dynamic pricing strategies be employed in all markets — even those for which bubbles and busts may have a particularly invasive, deleterious reach?

How has dynamic pricing impacted housing costs in your neck of the woods? Join the discussion in the comment section!

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