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March 2019 Rent Report

February 28, 2019

Methodology Note:

Apartment List is committed to making our rent estimates the best and most accurate available. To do this, we start with fully representative median rent statistics for recent movers taken from the Census Bureau American Community Survey. We then extrapolate this data forward to the current month using a growth rate calculated from our listing data. Growth rates are calculated using a same-unit analysis similar to Case-Shiller’s approach, comparing only units that are available across both time periods in order to provide an accurate picture of rent growth in cities across the country.

Our approach corrects for the sample bias inherent in private sources, producing results that are representative of the entire market. Our methodology also allows us to construct a picture of rent growth over an extended period of time, with estimates that are updated each month.

Read more about our methodology here. For further methodology questions or custom data requests, contact us at rentonomics@apartmentlist.com.

Welcome to the March 2019 National Apartment List Rent Report! Our national rent index fell by 0.1 percent month-over-month, the second straight monthly decrease. Year-over-year growth now stands at 1.0 percent, lagging the rates from the two prior years.

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

National average Y/Y rent growth is a modest 0.9%

Our national rent index remained flat over the past month, following two months of slight decreases, a trend that is consistent with the seasonal trend of falling rents during the winter months. Year-over-year growth currently stands at 0.9 percent, trailing the levels from the two prior years.

After closing out 2016 with a relatively steep month-over-month decline of 0.5 percent in December, our national index has leveled off, with a cumulative decline of just 0.1 percent through the first two months of 2019. In general, fewer renters are looking to move during the fall and winter, and so stagnant rent growth is typical at this time of year. That said, rent growth was generally sluggish throughout the course of 2018, and year-over-year growth is significantly lagging the pace from the previous two years.

Year-over-year growth currently stands at 0.9 percent at the national level, which is well below the 2.3 percent rate we saw this time last year as well as the 2.1 percent rate from February 2017. Rent growth is also pacing behind the overall rate of inflation, which stands at 1.6 percent as of the latest data release, and is lagging even further behind the growth in average hourly earnings, which have increased by 3.2 percent over the past twelve months. The recent moderation in rent growth is a welcome bit of relief as millions of our nation's renters continue to struggle with housing affordability.

Las Vegas and Phoenix metros experiencing fastest growth over the past year

Tracking rent growth at the national level is informative and provides valuable context, but housing markets are inherently local, and in contrast to the modest growth or our national rent index, some parts of the country are experiencing much more rapid price increases. Nearly one-third of cities with populations over 250,000 have seen rents grow at more than twice the national average.

Henderson, NV has experienced the nation's fastest rent growth with an increase of 3.7 percent over the last year, more than four times the national average. Henderson is located just outside of Las Vegas, which ranks fifth on the list at 3.1 percent growth. The Las Vegas metro has seen rapid job growth in recent years, but many of those jobs are in low-paying service and tourism industries, and continued rent hikes could lead to affordability concerns.

Looking at the remainder of the list, Phoenix and nearby Mesa have both seen rent growth of more than 3.5 percent over the past year, while Texas and North Carolina each also have multiple cities in the top 10. The cities on the list are all located in regions with strong local economies which offer good employment opportunities. With the exception of San Jose, many of these cities represent more affordable options for those looking beyond the pricey coastal hubs.

Persistent rent hikes in CO and CA cities since 2014

For many of the cities mentioned above, rapid rent growth is not a new phenomenon. Five of the cities in the top 10 for fastest year-over-year growth -- Henderson, NV; Mesa, AZ; San Jose, CA; Arlington, TX; and Aurora, CA -- also make the list for fastest rent growth over the past five years.

Aurora, CO tops this list, with rent growth of 34.5 percent since 2014, followed closely by nearby Colorado Springs. For comparison, our national rent index grew by just 13.0% over this period. Interestingly, Denver itself is absent from this list and the one above -- it seems that while the metro's core city is driving job growth in the region, the surrounding suburbs are seeing the biggest impacts to their rental markets. A similar trend can be seen in other booming metro areas represented in these lists, such as Dallas and San Francisco.

Stockton, CA, which sits on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay area ranks third on this list -- notably, Stockton also ranked third in our report on the metros with the highest shares of "super commuters" who travel more than 90 minutes each way to work. Three other California cities make the top 10 for rent growth over the past five years, speaking to the ongoing affordability crisis that continues to plague the state.

Please see the table below for the most recent rent estimates for your city, or head over to our rental data page to download complete data going back to 2014. 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$2,118$2,523-0.6%2.4%
Los Angeles, CA$1,363$1,7520.0%1.4%
Chicago, IL$1,076$1,266-0.2%0.9%
Houston, TX$837$1,024-0.3%0.0%
Philadelphia, PA$972$1,173-0.2%0.7%
Phoenix, AZ$852$1,0610.3%3.6%
San Antonio, TX$846$1,0630.0%2.1%
San Diego, CA$1,559$2,0230.0%1.6%
Dallas, TX$893$1,110-0.1%1.4%
San Jose, CA$2,091$2,6210.0%3.8%

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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