Nation's Rent Growth Continued Slowing Last Month, But Prices Remain Well Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

Nicholas Barron

Nationwide rent growth is finally slowing down, according to Apartment List’s latest data.

In its December Rent Report, the company shows the nation’s rent index ticked up just 0.1% in Nov. That compares to 0.8% rent growth in Oct. and 1.9% in Sep.

While more gradual rent increases are likely good news to many renters, rents continue to rise faster than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pace of rent growth has been cooling rapidly for the past few months,” Apartment List said. “But growth is still outpacing pre-pandemic trends, with the slight uptick this month coming at a time of year when seasonality normally causes prices to dip.”

The nation’s median rent, $1,312, is up 17.8% so far this year.

Still, renters looking for a silver lining in last month’s rental data can find it, at least in many of the country’s biggest cities.

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Photo by VAZHNIK from Pexels

Where rents dropped the most

Rents dropped last month in 53 of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Boise experienced the country’s steepest rent decline for the second consecutive month. Median rent prices in that city dropped 3.7% in Nov.

Even with the decrease, Boise’s rent remains 32% higher than it was before the pandemic. An Oxford Economics study declared last month that Boise was the nation’s least affordable housing market.

Other costly cities with significant rent drops last month include San Francisco (-2.7%), Seattle (-2.1%), and Boston (-1.9%).

Nationwide, median rent prices dropped last month in 78 of the country’s 100 largest metro areas.

Despite decreases, rent growth outpaces pre-pandemic levels

Decreasing rents are expected each Nov., according to Apartment List.

What’s unique about this year is how high median rent prices remain after phenomenal price growth since Jan.

“A slowdown in rent growth during the fall and winter is typical due to seasonality in this market, but this year the seasonal slowdown is capping a year that has been characterized by unprecedented price increases,” Apartment List said.

Apartment List estimates the nation’s median rent of $1,312 is $117 higher than it would be if rent growth since the pandemic had mirrored the 2018’s and 2019’s rates.

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Image provided by Apartment List

Why rent price growth may continue to slow

Looking ahead, Apartment List sees reasons to think decelerating rent growth may continue.

The company’s vacancy index, which measures the country’s number of unoccupied rental units, increased to 4.2% in Nov. That’s up from a low of 3.8% in August.

“If our vacancy rate continues to increase in the coming months, it’s likely that rent growth will also continue to cool,” Apartment List said.

Even then, though, the company points out that median rents have risen by more than 20% in 36 of the country’s largest cities.

“Even if re​​nt growth is finally cooling, this year’s rent boom has already burdened many American renters with significant new housing affordability woes,” Apartment List said.

What do you see where you live? Are rents going up, down, or staying the same? Let me know in the comments. And if this article was interesting, be sure to share it on social media.

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