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December 2017 Rent Report

November 20, 2017

Methodology Updates

Apartment List is committed to making our rent estimates the best and most accurate available, and as part of our efforts toward that goal, we've recently made some changes to our methodology. Data from private listing sites, including our own, tend to skew towards luxury apartments, introducing sample bias.

In order to address these limitations, our estimates now start with reliable median rent statistics from the Census Bureau, which we then extrapolate forward to the current month using a growth rate calculated from our listing data. In calculating that growth rate, we use a same-unit analysis similar to Case-Shiller’s approach, comparing only units that are available across both time periods to provide an accurate picture of rent growth in cities across the country.

We are continuously working to improve our methodology and data, with the goal of providing renters with the information that they need to make the best decisions. You can read more about our new methodology here.

Welcome to the December 2017 National Apartment List Rent Report! Our national rent index is down 0.1 percent month-over-month, marking the third straight month that we've seen rents fall.

Read on for an analysis of the trends we're seeing this month:

National index down 0.1 percent month-over-month

After increasing by 3.1 percent through the first eight months of the year, our national rent index has now fallen by 0.1 percent in each of the past three months. Year-over-year growth currently stands at 2.7 percent, falling in between the levels from the two prior years.

After beginning to flatten in August, our national index has now declined for three straight months. Rental activity is generally slower in the fall and winter months, and it's typical to see rent growth taper off at this time of year due to that seasonality. That said, the decline that we're seeing is a bit starker than we would have expected. Rent growth from January to August outpaced the rates from the two prior years, but in the past three months that trend has reversed, with rents declining more quickly than in previous years.

Despite the decrease over the past month, rents are still up 2.7 percent year-over-year at the national level. Year-over-year growth continues to fall between the 1.9 percent rate from this time last year and the 3.4 percent growth rate from November 2015. Rent growth is pacing a bit ahead of the overall rate of inflation, which stands at 2.0 percent as of the latest data release, and just slightly ahead of average hourly earnings which have increased by 2.4 percent over the past twelve months.

Rents down month-over-month in 66 of 100 largest cities

The drop in rents at the national level is being mirrored in many of the nations biggest markets -- the map below show's month-over-month rent growth for the nation's 100 largest cities (markers are sized by population):

Note that rents declined month-over-month in 66 of the nation's 100 largest cities, which is slightly down from the 73 cities that saw rents fall last month. Despite the seasonal slowdown, rents are still up year-over-year in 89 of the 100 largest cities. The chart below shows how rents have changed over the past year for the five cities that experienced the fastest growth:

Sacramento took the top spot for the nation's fastest rent growth again this month, with an increase of 9.5 percent over the past year. Reno came in second with 7.8 percent year-over-year growth, despite experiencing a sharp decline of 1.2 percent over the past two months.

At the state level, Utah experienced the fastest year-over-year growth in the nation at 4.7 percent, followed closely by Nevada at 4.6 percent and California at 4.3 percent.

Few cities experiencing Y/Y rent declines

Only 11 of the 100 largest cities have seen rents fall over the past year, but an additional 30 saw modest gains of less than 2 percent. The chart below shows trends for the five cities where rents declined most:

Anchorage, AK tops this list, with rents declining by 1.6 percent over the past year; the median 2-bedroom there now goes for $1,090. Notably, Washington, DC and Portland have both also seen rents fall slightly over the past year. These are both hot markets with strong economies and high demand, and each has seen rents grow swiftly in recent years so it may be a bit surprising to see them on this list. That said, both of these markets have seen large amounts of new construction this year, which has helped to tamp down further rent increases for the time being.

At the state level, North Dakota saw the biggest drop in rents over the past year with a decrease of 1.4 percent. Wyoming and West Virginia are the only other states to experience decreases of more than 1 percent.

Hurricane Harvey and CA wildfires have begun to impact rents

Hurricane Harvey and the Northern California wildfires both destroyed huge amounts of rental inventory, and the impact of these tragic disasters is beginning to show up in our rent data for the affected markets.

Houston was previously one of the softest markets in the country, with rents falling throughout this year, but the city has now seen rents spike by more than 1 percent for each of the past two months. Year-over-year growth now stands at 1.6 percent.

Santa Rosa, on the other hand, was already a hot market with a short supply of rental inventory, and with the recent wildfires destroying an estimated 5 percent of the city's housing stock, that shortage has now been exacerbated. This is the first full month of data since the California wildfires, and rents in Santa Rosa are showing a 1.1 percent increase over the past month, putting year-over-year growth at a staggering 7.2 percent.

Recovering from these disasters will be a lengthy process, and it's likely that rents will continue to increase in these cities in the coming months.

Please see additional data below for the nation's 100 largest cities, or check out the full data for your city or county at our rental data page. And as always, feel free to contact us with any questions!

City NameMedian 1 BR rentMedian 2 BR rentM/M rent changeY/Y rent change
New York, NY$2,080$2,480-0.4%-0.1%
Los Angeles, CA$1,350$1,730-0.3%3.8%
Chicago, IL$1,070$1,250-0.9%0.6%
Houston, TX$830$1,0201.3%1.6%
Philadelphia, PA$960$1,160-0.1%0.6%
Phoenix, AZ$820$1,0200.0%3.9%
San Antonio, TX$830$1,040-0.4%1.5%
San Diego, CA$1,550$2,010-0.4%3.9%
Dallas, TX$880$1,100-0.4%2.4%
San Jose, CA$2,030$2,550-0.8%3.0%

Check out our rent reports for the following cities:

If you would like to get future updates from Apartment List Rentonomics, please subscribe to our email list.


Apartment List Rent Report data is drawn monthly from the millions of listings on our site. 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom rents are calculated as the median for units available in the specified size and time period. Price changes are calculated using a “same unit” methodology similar to the Case-Shiller “repeat sales” home prices methodology, taking the average price change for units available across both time periods. For top city rankings, we calculated median 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom rents in 100 top cities and then ranked them by 2-bedroom rents.

About Apartment List Rent Reports:

Apartment List’s Rent Reports cover rental pricing data in major cities, their suburbs, and their neighborhoods. We provide valuable leading indicators of rental price trends, highlight data on top cities, and identify the key facts renters should know. As always, our goal is to provide price transparency to America’s 105 million renters to help them make the best possible decisions in choosing a place to call home. Apartment List publishes Rent Reports during the first calendar week of each month.

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Chris is a senior housing economist at Apartment List, where he conducts research on economic trends in the housing market. Chris previously worked as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve and an economic consultant, and he has BA and MA degrees in economics from Boston University. Read More
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