Rent Report, April 2021: The State of the Rental Market
More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, 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. Studios and one-bedrooms are showing some recovery in price, possibly reflecting growing demand. Two-bedrooms have adjusted down slightly, but are still up more than five percent year-over-year. Three-bedrooms are up, both since last month and since this time last year.
- 0-BR: $1,603 (+1.0 percent from prior month / -1.3 percent year-over-year)
- 1-BR: $1,610 (+1.6 percent from prior month / +3.2 percent year-over-year)
- 2-BR: $1,881 (-1.1 percent from prior month / +5.3 percent year-over-year)
- 3-BR: $2,036 (+1.9 percent from prior month / +4.2 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 studios are the only unit type with a close-to-even split between states facing upward and downward pressure on rent prices.
The three other unit types — one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom — more closely resemble a 2/3 vs. 1/3 mix, with the majority of states seeing a rise in rent prices.
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: 65 percent of states are up and 35 percent are down
- 2-BR: 74 percent of states are up and 26 percent are down
- 3-BR: 60 percent of states are up and 40 percent are down
City average rent price trends
Getting a step 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. Three of them — Gilbert, AZ; Buffalo, NY and Durham, NC — have populations of 300,000 or less.
- Kansas City, MO (+33.5%)
- Gilbert, AZ (+26.0%)
- Las Vegas, NV (+25.3%)
- Riverside, CA (+24.9%)
- Buffalo, NY (+23.3%)
- Columbus, OH (+22.1%)
- Durham, NC (+20.0%)
- Detroit, MI (+18.6%)
- New Orleans, LA (+18.3%)
- Virginia Beach, VA (+15.3%)
The following cities have experienced the biggest decreases in one-bedroom rent prices year-over-year. Five of them — San Francisco, CA; New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Jersey City, NJ and San Jose, CA — are also in the 10 most expensive markets for two-bedroom apartments by rent prices. Two of them — Chesapeake, VA and Jersey City, NJ — have populations of 300,000 or less.
- San Francisco, CA (-45.0%)
- Chesapeake, VA (-29.4%)
- New York, NY (-27.3%)
- Long Beach, CA (-27.0%)
- Colorado Springs, CO (-24.6%)
- Seattle, WA (-18.9%)
- San Jose, CA (-16.2%)
- Los Angeles, CA (-16.0%)
- Jersey City, NJ (-15.5%)
- San Antonio, TX (-15.4%)
Two-bedroom city average rent price trends
The following cities have experienced the biggest increases in two-bedroom rent prices year-over-year. One — Riverside, CA — is also in the 10 most expensive markets for one-bedroom apartments by rent prices. Four of them — North Las Vegas, NV; Buffalo, NY; Gilbert, AZ and Hialeah, FL — have populations of 300,000 or less.
- Riverside, CA (+56.0%)
- North Las Vegas, NV (+39.9%)
- Buffalo, NY (+38.6%)
- Detroit, MI (+32.5%)
- Las Vegas, NV (+31.1%)
- Gilbert, AZ (+30.1%)
- Memphis, TN (+24.2%)
- Hialeah, FL (+23.3%)
- Kansas City, MO (+21.4%)
- Wichita, KS (+21.1%)
The following cities have experienced the biggest decreases in two-bedroom rent prices year-over-year. Two of them — San Francisco, CA and Oakland, CA — are also in the 10 most expensive markets for one-bedroom apartments by rent prices. Five of them — Chesapeake, VA; St. Petersburg, FL; Chula Vista, CA; Fort Wayne, IN and Greensboro, NC — have populations of 300,000 or less.
- Long Beach, CA (-31.0%)
- Seattle, WA (-30.6%)
- Chesapeake, VA (-25.2%)
- St. Petersburg, FL (-24.5%)
- San Francisco, CA (-24.0%)
- Chula Vista, CA (-23.5%)
- Fort Wayne, IN (-20.7%)
- Oakland, CA (-20.6%)
- Greensboro, NC (-19.7%)
- Miami, FL (-18.6%)
Rent trends year-to-date
Earlier this month, Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies published a report about how renters have responded to financial stress during the pandemic. The study estimates that incomes fell for about half of all renters during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing an array of renter surveys. The losses were most pronounced among renter households headed by people of color or younger people, and those with lower incomes.
The study suggests that this trend continues into 2021, so we will continue to keep an eye out for rental trends we’ve seen so far in the pandemic — most notably, a trend toward household consolidation, which mirrors what was seen in the Great Recession of 2008.
About this report
Our April 2021 Rent Report highlights year-over-year rent trends and price fluctuations that renters may be experiencing 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.
To determine average rent prices, we started with March 2021 data from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory. From there, we evaluated changes seen since March 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 March 2020.