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March 2018 Rent Report

February 27, 2018

Methodology Note:

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 March 2018 National Apartment List Rent Report! Our national rent index is up 0.1 percent month-over-month, marking the first month this year that we've seen rents increase, after five straight months of modest declines.

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

National index up 0.1 percent month-over-month

Our national rent index increased by 0.1 percent over the past month, a reversal of the downward trend we saw from last September through January. Year-over-year growth currently stands at 2.3 percent, falling in between the levels from the two prior years.

Prior to this month, our national index fell by 0.5 percent over the course of the preceding five months. This trend is consistent with seasonality in apartment rentals, but the magnitude of the dip suggested a bit of softness in the market. With this month's 0.1 percent increase, it seems that the renting off-season is coming to an end. The timing of this uptick is also consistent with seasonality, and we'll likely to see rents continue to increase through the spring and summer months.

Year-over-year growth currently stands at 2.3 percent at the national level. This rate is just ahead of the 2.1 percent growth we saw this time last year, but well behind the 3.7 percent growth rate from February 2016. Rent growth is pacing just ahead of the overall rate of inflation, which stands at 2.1 percent as of the latest data release, and is a bit slower than growth in average hourly earnings which have increased by 2.9 percent over the past twelve months. Wages have generally been quite stagnant in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, so it's a welcome change to see incomes increasing at a faster clip than rents.

Rents up month-over-month in 57 of 100 largest cities

The uptick 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 increased month-over-month in  57 of the nation's 100 largest cities -- for comparison, rents declined in 60 of these cities last month. Rents are also up year-over-year in nearly all of the nations largest markets -- 87 of the 100 largest cities have seen rents increase over the past twelve months. The chart below shows how rents have changed over the past year for the five cities that experienced the fastest growth:

Sacramento continues to experience the nation's fastest rent growth, with an increase of 8.6 percent over the past year. Reno, NV came in second with 7.9 percent year-over-year growth, followed by Orlando, which saw rents grow by 7.4 percent.

At the state level, Nevada experienced the fastest year-over-year growth at 4.6 percent, followed by Utah, Idaho, California and Washington all of which saw rent growth of more than 3.5 percent.

Few cities experiencing Y/Y rent declines

Only 13 of the 100 largest cities have seen rents fall over the past year, though an additional 30 saw modest gains of less than 2 percent. The chart below shows trends for the five cities where rents declined most:

Oklahoma City has experienced the largest dip in rents over the past year with -2.1 percent growth, followed by Anchorage, AK, which saw rents fall by 1.6 percent over the past year. Note that despite having negative rent growth over the past year, Louisville and Baton Rouge actually both saw rents spike upward over the past month.

At the state level, West Virginia saw the biggest drop in rents over the past year with a decrease of 1.5 percent. Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota are the only other states to see rents fall year-over-year.

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
Los Angeles, CA$1,350$1,7300.4%3.8%
Chicago, IL$1,070$1,2600.2%0.8%
Houston, TX$830$1,020-0.2%2.7%
New York, NY$2,060$2,460-0.2%0.2%
Philadelphia, PA$960$1,160-0.4%1.3%
Phoenix, AZ$820$1,0300.3%3.3%
San Antonio, TX$830$1,0400.2%1.5%
San Diego, CA$1,550$2,0000.7%3.1%
Dallas, TX$880$1,1000.1%2.1%
San Jose, CA$2,030$2,5500.9%3.1%

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 Salviati
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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