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Rich Americans Ditch Home Ownership For Renting
CNBC.com | November 26, 2010 | 10:09 AM EST

Patrick Lee went from homeowner to home renter this year.

It may sound like a downgrade, but the New Yorker didn't make the switch because he couldn't keep up with payments or because he lost his job. Instead, Lee was nervous about the state of the housing market.

So in March he sold the Manhattan apartment he bought in 2008 for about the same price he paid and moved — along with his wife and child — a few steps away into a luxury, two-bedroom rental unit in a brand new building.

Lee wouldn't disclose what he's paying, but similar two-bedroom apartments in the building usually rent for $11,000 a month.

“I wanted to protect ourselves from prices going down,” says Lee, who is a managing director at a major bank. “I didn’t want to be an owner anymore.”

Lee has company. Demand for luxury rental units has increased as wealthier individuals who can afford to buy are deciding not to, according to brokers and real estate analysts in affluent areas of the country such as New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.

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