Rent Report, May 2021: The State of the Rental Market

May 28, 2021

With the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to wind down due to widespread vaccinations and economic recovery efforts well underway, we explore where rent prices stand today compared to one year ago.

National average rent price trends

On a national level, we're noticing a shift in recent patterns. All unit types reflect price increases since last month, possibly reflecting growing demand. Every unit type is also up year-over-year except for studio apartments. These numbers appear to reflect a strong interest in multi-family housing, possibly fueled in part by current levels of demand and competition among home buyers.

  • 0-BR: $1,630 (+1.7 percent from prior month / -2.0 percent year-over-year)
  • 1-BR: $1,663 (+3.3 percent from prior month / +4.4 percent year-over-year)
  • 2-BR: $1,934 (+2.8 percent from prior month / +5.0 percent year-over-year)
  • 3-BR: $2,069 (+1.6 percent from prior month / +4.1 percent year-over-year)

State average rent price trends

As we look at what rent prices are doing from state to state, we see that both studio apartments and three-bedroom units reflect a close-to-even split between states facing upward and downward pressure on rent prices.

One-bedroom apartment prices more closely resemble a 2/3 vs. 1/3 mix, with the majority of states seeing a rise in rent prices. Meanwhile, two-bedroom rent prices are widely up.

We excluded the bottom 15 percent of our state data when running these calculations to eliminate areas with lower inventory. Of the remaining states:

  • 0-BR: 51 percent of states are up and 49 percent are down
  • 1-BR: 67 percent of states are up and 33 percent are down
  • 2-BR: 79 percent of states are up and 21 percent are down
  • 3-BR: 50 percent of states are up and 50 percent are down

City average rent price trends

Getting more granular, let's take a look at which cities are becoming more and less expensive. Our analysis looks at one- and two-bedroom apartments in the 100 most populated cities in the country. We eliminated cities with insufficient rental price data.

A full list of included cities and their rent price data can be found below.

One-bedroom city average rent price trends

The following cities have experienced the biggest increases in one-bedroom rent prices year-over-year. None of them make the 10 most expensive markets for one-bedroom apartments by rent prices. Only one — Winston-Salem, NC — has a population of 300,000 or less.

The following cities have experienced the biggest decreases in one-bedroom rent prices year-over-year. Five cities — New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; Oakland, CA; Los Angeles, CA and San Jose, CA — are also in the 10 most expensive markets for one-bedroom apartments by rent prices. One — Garland, TX — has a population of 300,000 or less.

Two-bedroom city average rent price trends

The following cities have experienced the biggest increases in two-bedroom rent prices year-over-year. One —Scottsdale, AZ — is also in the 10 most expensive markets for two-bedroom apartments by rent prices and has a population of 300,000 or less.

The following cities have experienced the biggest decreases in two-bedroom rent prices year-over-year. One of them — San Jose, CA — is also in the 10 most expensive markets for two-bedroom apartments by rent prices. Three of them — St. Petersburg, FL, Garland, TX and Fort Wayne, IN — have populations of 300,000 or less.

Overlap cities by average rent prices

Some cities reflect across-the-board increases or decreases in rent prices. We call these overlap cities.

Three cities in the top 10 have experienced year-over-year price increases in both one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments:

Four cities in the top 10 have experienced year-over-year price decreases in both one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments:

Average rent price trends in the 100 most populated cities

Here's an expanded view of how rent prices are changing in the largest U.S. cities.

Rank by PopulationCity, StatePopulation1-BR Avg Rent, April 20211-BR: 1-Year Change2-BR Avg Rent, April 20212-BR: 1-Year Change 
1New York, NY8,336,817$3,684-15.2%$6,52215.3%
2Los Angeles, CA3,979,576$2,669-18.4%$4,254-11.6%
3Chicago, IL2,693,976$2,132-12.7%$3,017-8.5%
4Houston, TX2,320,268$1,180-5.0%$1,537-6.2%
5Phoenix, AZ1,680,992$1,4123.9%$1,591-6.3%
6Philadelphia, PA1,584,064$1,941-8.8%$2,423-20.3%
7San Antonio, TX1,547,253$948-15.9%$1,216-14.2%
8San Diego, CA1,423,851$2,4836.7%$3,46818.4%
9Dallas, TX1,343,573$1,479-1.4%$2,1503.0%
10San Jose, CA1,021,795$2,463-15.3%$3,054-14.7%
11Austin, TX978,908$1,373-10.3%$1,535-12.1%
12Jacksonville, FL911,507$1,28215.7%$1,4099.0%
13Fort Worth, TX909,585$1,142-10.6%$1,335-14.1%
14Columbus, OH898,553$1,27020.4%$1,53914.8%
15Charlotte, NC885,708$1,362-0.2%$1,7388.5%
16San Francisco, CA881,549$3,137-18.9%$4,511-11.8%
17Indianapolis, IN876,384$1,1928.9%$1,4051.4%
18Seattle, WA753,675$2,166-14.1%$2,884-26.3%
19Denver, CO727,211$2,0718.7%$2,97916.0%
20Washington, DC705,749$2,181-17.2%$3,017-10.0%
21Boston, MA692,600$3,575-3.1%$4,816-6.9%
22El Paso, TX681,728$9154.2%$1,14110.3%
23Nashville, TN670,820$1,603-11.8%$2,149-4.1%
24Detroit, MI670,031$1,51613.8%$2,32031.4%
25Oklahoma City, OK655,057$711-10.0%$855-12.2%
26Portland, OR654,741$1,638-9.1%$2,157-8.0%
27Las Vegas, NV651,319$1,65344.0%$1,99745.6%
28Memphis, TN651,073$1,0106.2%$971-9.0%
29Louisville, KY617,638$1,1608.6%$1,2372.9%
30Baltimore, MD593,490$1,84412.5%$1,95615.9%
31Milwaukee, WI590,157$1,277-3.2%$1,609-7.7%
32Albuquerque, NM560,513$923-1.8%$1,101-0.1%
33Tucson, AZ548,073$93311.6%$1,36628.8%
34Fresno, CA531,576N/AN/A$1,023-11.0%
35Mesa, AZ518,012$1,26825.3%$1,55120.9%
36Sacramento, CA513,624$2,05410.4%$2,52121.2%
37Atlanta, GA506,811$1,610-2.4%$2,012-5.3%
38Kansas City, MO495,327$1,40916.4%$1,75518.2%
39Colorado Springs, CO478,221$1,243-7.4%$1,7145.4%
40Omaha, NE478,192$9795.0%$1,24111.3%
41Raleigh, NC474,069$1,2754.7%$1,3342.0%
42Miami, FL467,963$2,388-4.2%$2,383-20.5%
43Long Beach, CA462,628$1,9140.8%$2,3021.1%
44Virginia Beach, VA449,974$1,60332.0%$1,67124.6%
45Oakland, CA433,031$2,887-14.2%$3,887-9.1%
46Minneapolis, MN429,606$1,455-0.5%$1,9500.2%
47Tulsa, OK401,190$668-0.3%$837-3.4%
48Tampa, FL399,700$1,343-2.6%$1,555-11.0%
49Arlington, TX398,854$1,031-3.0%$1,66727.0%
50New Orleans, LA390,144$1,78719.5%$2,44814.6%
51Wichita, KS389,938N/AN/A$75018.9%
52Bakersfield, CA384,145N/AN/AN/AN/A
53Cleveland, OH381,009$1,3968.8%$1,8479.7%
54Aurora, CO379,289$1,71419.3%$1,94117.6%
55Anaheim, CA350,365$2,2740.9%$2,501-5.6%
56Honolulu, HI345,064N/AN/AN/AN/A
57Santa Ana, CA332,318$2,4748.3%$2,9084.8%
58Riverside, CA331,360N/AN/AN/AN/A
59Corpus Christi, TX326,586$890-3.7%$1,175-6.5%
60Lexington, KY323,152$890-2.8%$976-17.7%
61Henderson, NV320,189$1,59516.6%$1,89722.1%
62Stockton, CA312,697N/AN/AN/AN/A
63Saint Paul, MN308,096$1,402-1.3%$1,9041.2%
64Cincinnati, OH303,940$967-10.1%$1,327-5.1%
65Saint Louis, MO300,576$1,806-1.0%$2,060-2.3%
66Pittsburgh, PA300,286$1,5321.2%$1,7324.5%
67Greensboro, NC296,710$828-2.6%$993-11.6%
68Lincoln, NE289,102$1,016-6.6%$1,37911.7%
69Anchorage, AK288,000N/AN/AN/AN/A
70Plano, TX287,677$1,6663.9%$2,068-6.3%
71Orlando, FL287,442$1,6469.8%$2,22923.6%
72Irvine, CA287,401$2,3545.1%$2,8424.8%
73Newark, NJ282,011$1,943-1.8%N/AN/A
74Durham, NC278,993$1,199-2.9%$1,460-7.1%
75Chula Vista, CA274,492$2,2535.2%N/AN/A
76Toledo, OH272,779$762-8.8%$1,11419.2%
77Fort Wayne, IN270,402$750-8.9%$839-14.5%
78Saint Petersburg, FL265,351N/AN/A$1,474-12.8%
79Laredo, TX262,491N/AN/AN/AN/A
80Jersey City, NJ262,075$2,635-12.4%$3,803-7.1%
81Chandler, AZ261,165$1,4345.7%$1,7208.7%
82Madison, WI259,680$1,190-2.2%$1,6487.6%
83Lubbock, TX258,862$688-5.6%$899-5.2%
84Scottsdale, AZ258,069$2,0786.2%$3,12536.8%
85Reno, NV255,601$1,48211.8%$1,91214.2%
86Buffalo, NY255,284N/AN/A$1,85341.8%
87Gilbert, AZ254,114N/AN/AN/AN/A
88Glendale, AZ252,381$1,172-1.2%N/AN/A
89North Las Vegas, NV251,974N/AN/AN/AN/A
90Winston-Salem, NC247,945$99321.0%$1,16919.5%
91Chesapeake, VA244,835N/AN/AN/AN/A
92Norfolk, VA242,742$1,3244.2%$1,6057.6%
93Fremont, CA241,110$2,212-10.0%$2,740-10.3%
94Garland, TX239,928$986-14.6%$1,423-12.7%
95Irving, TX239,798$1,345-8.9%$1,740-3.0%
96Hialeah, FL233,339N/AN/AN/AN/A
97Richmond, VA230,436$1,27710.2%$1,4477.1%
98Boise, ID228,959N/AN/AN/AN/A
99Spokane, WA222,081N/AN/AN/AN/A
100Baton Rouge, LA220,236$9801.8%$1,1100.2%

Rental industry trends in April

In addition to rent price trends, we highlight a few industry takeaways having an impact on the overall rental market.

1. Latest rent payment numbers reflect resilience

In April, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC)'s Rent Payment Tracker, 95 percent of apartment households paid rent. NMHC's President, Doug Bibby, noted, “This month's findings are part of what seems to be an increasingly clear pattern of economic recovery and strong demand for multifamily housing. With more and more vaccines being administered, job creation on the rise and tens of billions in rental assistance being distributed to residents and housing providers in need, the outlook for the industry is a positive one."

2. Government moves to get aid to renters faster

Bibby also stressed the importance of distributing federal aid for renters at the local level, "Federal lawmakers did their jobs when they allocated almost $50 billion in rental assistance, as well as other support for apartment residents. Now, the priority should be for local and state lawmakers to distribute those funds as quickly and efficiently as possible to residents and housing providers who have endured deep financial distress over the course of the pandemic."

Earlier this month, the Biden administration stepped up efforts to do just that — and get financial aid to renters who need it.

The U.S. Treasury Department rolled out a simpler application process, a wider net of covered costs to include moving fees and hotel stays, plus a mandate for housing programs to assist tenants — even those whose landlords don't participate.

3. Growing fears of inflation could affect rent prices

As COVID-19 vaccinations continue and the economy begins to re-open fully, new fears have been mounting about a potential rise in inflation — which would come with the potential for higher rents along with the prices of other consumer needs, such as gas and groceries.

This is a possibility that renters should know about and policymakers will want to watch as re-opening efforts continue.

About this report

Our May 2021 Rent Report highlights year-over-year rent trends and price fluctuations that renters may experience in various parts of the United States. We compare rent prices for studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments to determine which unit types and which of the country's most populated cities are becoming more affordable or more expensive for renters.

We also offer a key few takeaways and insights — such as whether or not markets with the largest rent increases are also those with the most expensive rent prices, and which regions of the country are most favorable to renters right now.

Methodology

To determine average rent prices, we started with April 2021 data from Apartment Guide and Rent.com's multifamily rental property inventory. From there, we evaluated changes seen since April 2020. Monthly prices are based on the average price for that respective month.

We used a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

The U.S. Census divides the country into four geographic regions: Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont); Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin); South (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, District of Columbia and West Virginia) and West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, Utah, Washington and Wyoming).

The top 100 cities in our analysis were determined by 2019 U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. We excluded cities with insufficient inventory in each time period to eliminate potential outliers or highly volatile data caused by a small sample size. Rent price increases and decreases per time period are based on the percentage change of apartment rental prices from April 2020.

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