Zumper National Rent Report: March 2021


Notable Trends

We’re now two months into 2021, and at this point it is clear that the unprecedented rental market trends of 2020– largely stemming from migration shifts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic- have slowed. Judging by our data, the “bottom” occurred sometime in the 4th quarter of 2020, and trends have plateaued or slightly reversed since.

Price Difference Between Expensive and Cheaper Cities has Grown

One way to illustrate how 2020 rental market trends have slowed is to look at how expensive the country’s priciest cities are compared to the rest of the country. The chart below shows the percent difference between the median 1-bedroom price in the 8 priciest cities and the bottom 92 cities from the 100 tracked in this rent report. A year ago, the median 1-bedroom price across the top 8 cities was 120% higher than the bottom 92. That price premium bottomed-out in November of 2020 at 75%, and sat at 79% as of February 2021. As shown in the chart, expensive cities rapidly got closer in price to the rest of the country throughout Q2 and Q3 of 2020- but this trend reversed in Q4. Since then, the gap has started to widen- albeit slowly.

Why has this gap started to widen again? It likely reflects a slowdown in renters abandoning expensive markets and an increase in new renters moving in. This can be seen in the growth rates of expensive cities in the most recent data. 1-bedroom median prices did not decline last month in New York City, San Jose, Boston, Oakland, and Washington DC, which comprised the 2nd through 6th most expensive markets. Prices actually increased in three of these markets: New York City (+4.7%); San Jose (+2.3%), and Boston (+1.5%). Price growth in these expensive cities- even at mild rates- has essentially not occurred in about a year. Meanwhile, cities that became destinations in 2020 due to their relatively lower costs have started to wane in price growth.

Cheaper, Neighboring Cities were Destinations in 2020

Some of the most popular destination cities in 2020 were relatively cheaper cities that neighbored a significantly more expensive market. This resulted in pairs of neighboring cities where renters abandoned the expensive market in favor of the relatively cheaper one- which in turn caused prices to drop in the expensive market and spike in the cheaper one. The price effects of this phenomenon still are still felt in these markets despite slowing trends. The chart below shows some of the most prominent of these “city-pairs” and how price trends have diverged each from a year ago.

Growth in Cheaper Cities has Waned

Price growth in the most popular destination cities from above, as well as other destination cities, has slowed since 2020-Q4. The chart below tracks the median 1-bedroom price in the Top 8 markets compared to the Bottom 92 of the 100 cities tracked in this rent report. Prices rose steadily throughout the middle of 2020 in cheaper cities while prices dropped dramatically in expensive places over the same time period. However, those trends have slowed considerably by the end of 2020. The median 1-bedroom price in the bottom 92 cities was only 1.9% higher than it was a year ago, which is considerably lower than the 5-8% growth in these cities over the middle of 2020. The slowdown in these trends has resulted in an increase in the rental price gap between expensive and cheaper places in recent months.

Nationally

Rents grew nationally for both 1 and 2-bedroom units in February, +1.1% and +0.9%, respectively. Compared to a year ago, median 1-bedroom rent was up 1.8%, and median 2-bedroom rent was up 2.6%.

Rents continue to be down considerably in historically expensive, coastal cities from a year ago. At the same time, rents in historically cheaper cities throughout the Midwest and Southwest are up considerably from a year ago.

Notable Changes this Past Month

Upward

1. Detroit, MI saw 1-bedroom median rent increase the most from the month prior, up 5.6% to $950 and ranked as the 70th most expensive rental market.

2. Anchorage, AK had the second highest monthly growth rate for 1-bedroom median rent at 5.5%. Anchorage ranked as the 69th most expensive rental market.

3. Virginia Beach, VA and Indianapolis, IN both saw median 1-bedroom rent climb 5.3% from the prior month, and ranked as the 41st and 66th most expensive rental markets, respectively.

4. Boise, ID and Jacksonville, FL both saw an increase of 5.2% to their 1-bedroom median rents from the prior month.

5. Durham, NC had an increase of 5.1% in median 1-bedroom rent to $1230 and was the 37th most expensive rental market.

Downward

1. Newark, NJ had the largest decrease in 1-bedroom median rent from the prior month at -7.4% to $1620.

2. Cleveland, OH had the second highest monthly decrease in 1-bedroom median rent at -6.1%. Cleveland ranked as the 54th most expensive market.

3. Chicago, IL had the 3rd highest monthly decrease at -5.2% in 1-bedroom median rent. Chicago ranked as the 19th most expensive rental market.

4. Providence, RI had the 4th largest monthly decrease at -4.8% in 1-bedroom median rent.

5. Des Moines, IA had the 5th largest decrease in 1-bedroom median rent at -4.5% from the prior month to $850.

Full Data

  1 Bedroom  2 Bedrooms  
Pos.CityPriceM/M %Y/Y %PriceM/M %Y/Y %
1San Francisco, CA$2,650-1.10%-24.30%$3,5000.00%-23.60%
2New York, NY$2,4604.70%-18.00%$2,550-4.50%-23.20%
3San Jose, CA$2,1802.30%-11.70%$2,6800.80%-11.30%
4Boston, MA$2,0501.50%-18.00%$2,5000.00%-13.80%
5Oakland, CA$2,0000.00%-15.60%$2,500-1.20%-13.80%
6Washington, DC$1,9600.00%-15.90%$2,6601.50%-14.70%
7Los Angeles, CA$1,900-2.10%-15.60%$2,660-1.50%-11.30%
8San Diego, CA$1,8201.10%4.00%$2,4000.00%2.10%
9Santa Ana, CA$1,7000.00%0.60%$2,3704.90%8.20%
9Fort Lauderdale, FL$1,7000.60%1.80%$2,1901.40%1.90%
11Anaheim, CA$1,6801.20%4.30%$2,000-1.00%1.00%
12Newark, NJ$1,620-7.40%20.00%$1,820-6.70%16.70%
13Long Beach, CA$1,6000.00%2.60%$2,000-1.00%3.60%
14Miami, FL$1,580-1.30%-12.20%$2,000-4.30%-14.90%
15Scottsdale, AZ$1,5201.30%3.40%$2,0705.10%-0.50%
16Seattle, WA$1,500-3.80%-16.20%$1,9900.00%-13.50%
16Atlanta, GA$1,5001.40%6.40%$1,8801.10%5.00%
18Honolulu, HI$1,4801.40%-3.90%$1,9000.00%-9.50%
19Chicago, IL$1,460-5.20%0.70%$1,800-4.80%5.90%
20New Orleans, LA$1,4502.10%5.10%$1,7000.00%11.10%
21Sacramento, CA$1,4302.10%10.00%$1,8205.20%19.70%
22Denver, CO$1,4000.00%-6.00%$1,9200.00%1.10%
23Providence, RI$1,390-4.80%14.90%$1,710-5.00%3.00%
23Philadelphia, PA$1,3903.00%-4.10%$1,7100.60%3.60%
25Portland, OR$1,380-1.40%0.00%$1,700-1.20%6.30%
26Gilbert, AZ$1,3601.50%7.90%$1,590-1.20%7.40%
27Chandler, AZ$1,3300.00%7.30%$1,5600.00%9.10%
27Richmond, VA$1,3304.70%19.80%$1,5001.40%11.90%
29Nashville, TN$1,3201.50%-5.70%$1,4500.00%-0.70%
30Henderson, NV$1,3000.00%15.00%$1,390-1.40%2.20%
30Minneapolis, MN$1,3000.00%-5.80%$1,8000.60%0.60%
30Orlando, FL$1,3004.80%3.20%$1,4101.40%0.70%
33Charlotte, NC$1,2804.90%9.40%$1,5204.80%16.90%
34Dallas, TX$1,2704.10%4.10%$1,6903.00%1.80%
35Milwaukee, WI$1,2605.00%12.50%$1,3104.80%12.00%
36Tampa, FL$1,2504.20%13.60%$1,4002.20%7.70%
37Plano, TX$1,2303.40%2.50%$1,6204.50%2.50%
37Durham, NC$1,2305.10%21.80%$1,2801.60%15.30%
39Boise, ID$1,2105.20%17.50%$1,3102.30%8.30%
40St Petersburg, FL$1,200-0.80%15.40%$1,580-4.80%15.30%
41Austin, TX$1,190-0.80%-5.60%$1,5400.00%-0.60%
41Virginia Beach, VA$1,1905.30%19.00%$1,3201.50%10.00%
43Baltimore, MD$1,1800.00%-0.80%$1,330-0.70%-4.30%
44Irving, TX$1,1403.60%0.90%$1,4601.40%-1.40%
44Chesapeake, VA$1,1404.60%2.70%$1,2403.30%2.50%
44Colorado Springs, CO$1,1404.60%14.00%$1,3705.40%13.20%
47Aurora, CO$1,1301.80%3.70%$1,5004.90%4.90%
48Fresno, CA$1,1201.80%13.10%$1,330-0.70%14.70%
48Salt Lake City, UT$1,1204.70%1.80%$1,4005.30%7.70%
50Houston, TX$1,1100.90%3.70%$1,3902.20%6.90%
50Fort Worth, TX$1,1102.80%7.80%$1,4201.40%13.60%
50Madison, WI$1,1103.70%-0.90%$1,4101.40%7.60%
53Pittsburgh, PA$1,0900.90%-0.90%$1,3100.80%0.00%
54Cleveland, OH$1,080-6.10%14.90%$1,150-4.20%15.00%
54Raleigh, NC$1,0802.90%8.00%$1,2701.60%5.80%
56Reno, NV$1,0700.00%7.00%$1,4702.80%14.80%
56Mesa, AZ$1,0704.90%11.50%$1,3503.80%14.40%
58Buffalo, NY$1,0500.00%-1.90%$1,110-4.30%-14.60%
58Phoenix, AZ$1,0504.00%7.10%$1,2901.60%5.70%
60Kansas City, MO$1,0404.00%11.80%$1,1700.90%14.70%
61St Louis, MO$1,0203.00%13.30%$1,2802.40%7.60%
61Jacksonville, FL$1,0205.20%14.60%$1,2005.30%17.60%
63Rochester, NY$1,000-1.00%3.10%$1,2302.50%10.80%
63Las Vegas, NV$1,0000.00%5.30%$1,2000.00%3.40%
63Norfolk, VA$1,0002.00%8.70%$1,1100.90%11.00%
66Chattanooga, TN$990-1.00%10.00%$1,120-1.80%12.00%
66Indianapolis, IN$9905.30%22.20%$1,0404.00%16.90%
68San Antonio, TX$9702.10%12.80%$1,2003.40%10.10%
69Anchorage, AK$9605.50%5.50%$1,1701.70%5.40%
70Arlington, TX$9500.00%11.80%$1,2302.50%11.80%
70Detroit, MI$9505.60%11.80%$1,1304.60%13.00%
72Cincinnati, OH$9300.00%3.30%$1,1400.00%3.60%
72Glendale, AZ$9302.20%8.10%$1,170-0.80%9.30%
74Spokane, WA$9204.50%16.50%$1,1905.30%17.80%
75Louisville, KY$9104.60%9.60%$1,0005.30%7.50%
76Bakersfield, CA$8904.70%11.30%$1,1100.90%7.80%
77Columbus, OH$8802.30%8.60%$1,1000.90%2.80%
77Corpus Christi, TX$8803.50%4.80%$1,1200.90%6.70%
79Des Moines, IA$850-4.50%-1.20%$900-4.30%-1.10%
79Syracuse, NY$8501.20%1.20%$9801.00%2.10%
81Greensboro, NC$8401.20%13.50%$9402.20%13.30%
82Knoxville, TN$830-1.20%3.80%$1,0202.00%7.40%
82Memphis, TN$8300.00%9.20%$8800.00%8.60%
84Baton Rouge, LA$8202.50%7.90%$9500.00%8.00%
85Augusta, GA$810-1.20%8.00%$910-1.10%8.30%
85Omaha, NE$8101.30%-1.20%$1,000-2.90%1.00%
87Tallahassee, FL$8000.00%-5.90%$910-2.20%-2.20%
87Winston Salem, NC$8000.00%3.90%$8902.30%7.20%
89Lincoln, NE$7900.00%2.60%$900-1.10%0.00%
90Lexington, KY$7802.60%8.30%$1,0005.30%8.70%
91Oklahoma City, OK$7700.00%-3.80%$9000.00%-4.30%
92Albuquerque, NM$7501.40%7.10%$9500.00%10.50%
93Tucson, AZ$7300.00%7.40%$960-2.00%7.90%
94El Paso, TX$7201.40%9.10%$8902.30%11.30%
95Laredo, TX$6804.60%-4.20%$970-1.00%3.20%
96Shreveport, LA$650-1.50%4.80%$7500.00%7.10%
96Lubbock, TX$6500.00%3.20%$8500.00%6.30%
98Tulsa, OK$630-1.60%0.00%$8401.20%3.70%
99Wichita, KS$6201.60%-4.60%$7500.00%7.10%
100Akron, OH$6000.00%-3.20%$7501.40%2.70%

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