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Apartment List National Rent Report

January 29, 2024

Overview

Welcome to the February 2024 Apartment List National Rent Report. The rental market kicked off the new year with a sixth straight month of negative rent growth, as the nationwide median rent fell by 0.3 percent to $1,373.1 The recent declines are in line with the rental market’s typical seasonal pattern, as fewer renters are looking to move in the fall and winter, although this year’s dip has been a bit sharper and more prolonged than what we normally see.

Year-over-year rent growth has bottomed out but remains in negative territory at -1 percent, meaning that on average, apartments across the country are slightly cheaper today than they were one year ago. This stands in sharp contrast to the prevailing conditions of 2021 and 2022, when rent prices were surging and year-over-year growth peaked at 18 percent nationally. But despite this cooldown, the national median rent is still more than $200 per month higher than it was just three years ago.

median rent 2024 02

On the supply side of the market, our national vacancy index stands at 6.5 percent, slightly higher than the pre-pandemic average. After a historic tightening in 2021, multifamily occupancy rates have been slowly but consistently easing for over two years. And with this year expected to bring the most [new apartment completions]((https://www.apartmentlist.com/research/how-many-new-homes-are-under-construction-today) in decades, we expect that there will continue to be an abundance of vacant units on the market in the year ahead.

Regionally, rents fell in January in 73 of the nation’s 100 largest cities, and prices are down year-over-year in 53 of these 100 cities. The sharpest rent decline over the past year has been in Oakland, CA, where rents are down by 9.1% year-over-year. Boise, ID; Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; Nashville, TN; and Portland, OR have all also seen rents fall by 5 percent or more.


Rents are down 0.3% month-over-month, down 1% year-over-year

Rent growth follows a seasonal pattern – rent increases generally take place during the spring and summer, whereas the fall and winter usually see a modest price dip. We are currently in the midst of the rental market’s off-season, as reflected in recent price trends. Rents began to dip last August, and have now fallen for six straight months as of January’s 0.3 percent decline.

rg mom 2024 02

January’s dip was relatively modest compared to the declines we’ve been seeing in recent months, indicating that we’re approaching the end of the market’s slow season. Even though the timing of the recent slowdown has been in line with what we typically expect, its magnitude has been a bit more pronounced. The nation’s median rent has fallen by a total of 3.5 percent since last summer’s peak, the second sharpest seasonal dip that we’ve seen in the history of our index (going back to 2017). The only period that brought a sharper decline was from September 2022 to January 2023, when rents fell by 3.7 percent as the market shifted into the period of sluggishness that still persists. For comparison, in the three years preceding the pandemic, the average winter rent decline was 1.8 percent.

rg yoy 2024 02

On a year-over-year basis, rents nationally are down 1 percent. Year-over-year rent growth dipped below zero last June for the first time since the early stages of the pandemic, and has now been in negative territory for eight consecutive months. After prices skyrocketed in 2021 and 2022, the pendulum has been swinging back a bit over the past year as price growth has been kept in check by sluggish demand colliding with a robust supply of new inventory hitting the market. That said, the recent dip does not equate to a reversal of the earlier price hikes - the national median rent is still 20 percent higher than it was three years ago.


The rental market slowdown in gradually showing up in inflation numbers

The primary measure of inflation in the United States is the Bureau of Labor Statistics's Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is heavily influenced by changes in housing prices.2 The Apartment List National Rent Index has proven to be a strong leading indicator of the CPI housing and rent components, since our index captures price changes in new leases, which are only later reflected in price changes across all leases (what the CPI measures).

cpi 2024 02

Because of these methodological differences, when our index peaked with record-setting rent growth in late 2021 (+17.8 percent), the CPI’s measure of household inflation was still in the early stages of its upswing. And while rent growth as measured by our index was cooling over the course of 2022, the CPI measure continued to rise. But as we had long been predicting, the shelter component of CPI finally turned the corner earlier this year and has now been steadily cooling for six months. As the official measure of shelter inflation continues to trend down, it will help overall inflation continue to ease along with it. While most components of inflation are difficult to predict, the Apartment List rent index can confidently tell us where shelter CPI is headed.


Apartment vacancies are back above pre-pandemic levels

The price fluctuations that have rocked the rental market over the past three years are largely attributable to changes in the balance between the number of vacant apartments available and the number of renters looking to move into them. Early in the pandemic, the Apartment List Vacancy Index rose to 6.8 percent as many Americans consolidated households and moved in with family amid large job losses and economic uncertainty. Then, a suddenly-tight rental market drove rapid rent growth in 2021 and 2022 as more households were competing for a dwindling supply of vacant units. Our vacancy index tightened rapidly from 6.8 percent to 3.9 percent in just over a year.

vacancy 2024 02

But after bottoming out in October 2021, our national vacancy index has now been easing steadily for over two years. This easing has plateaued in recent months, but has not stopped entirely. As of January, our vacancy index sits at 6.5 percent, the highest reading since September 2020. And there’s good reason to expect that it could rise even further in the year ahead. Despite a recent slowdown in new building permits being issued, the number of multifamily units under construction remains near record levels. 2023 saw the most new apartments complete construction in more than 30 years, and an even greater number of new units are expected to come on the market this year. This means that renters should have more available options than they have in some time, especially in the Sun Belt markets where construction activity has been strongest.

Vacancy trends are highly localized, and they have been a key indicator of rapidly evolving conditions in local markets across the U.S. throughout the pandemic. To explore the topic in greater detail, monthly vacancy data are now available for download for hundreds of cities, metros, and states, and can be easily linked to our existing rent estimates using Federal Information Processing System (FIPS) codes.


Rents down month-over-month in 73 of 100 largest cities, down year-over-year in 53

The chart below visualizes monthly rent changes in each of the nation’s 100 largest cities from January 2019 to present. The color in each cell represents the extent to which prices went up (red) or down (blue) in a given city in a given month. We see a typical seasonal pattern in 2019, followed by 2020, where horizontal bands of dark blue represent steep rent drops in some of the nation’s largest and most expensive cities. Meanwhile, the dark red bands in 2021 and 2022 represent the rent heatwave that drove up prices nationwide. But the rightmost columns of the chart show the rent cooldown in late 2022 and the modest rent growth that has persisted through present.

rg top100 2024 02

As nationwide rent growth was negative in January, so too was local rent growth in the majority of large cities across the county. 73 of the nation’s largest 100 cities saw prices fall month-over-month, and in 53 of these cities prices are down year-over-year.

neg yoy count 2024 02

In early 2022, all 100 of these cities were posting positive year-over-year rent increases. The first to turn negative were the early “zoom towns'' in states like Arizona, Nevada, and Idaho that surged in popularity in 2020 when much of the nation’s workforce went remote, but saw a pullback in demand as affordable options dissipated and more jobs were called back to city centers. However, the market cooldown gradually expanded to encompass much of the country, and by last August, 72 of the 100 largest cities had seen prices fall over the prior 12 months. Since then, however, a number of these cites have gradually been turning the corner back into positive rent growth. Even as the year-over-year growth rate of our national index held steady this month, the number of cities logging negative year-over-growth fell from 60 in December to 53 in January.

neg yoy map 2024 02

The sharpest rent declines have been occurring in the South and along the West Coast. Currently the sharpest year-over-year decline can be found in Oakland, CA, where prices are down 9.1 percent compared to last January. Year-over-year declines of 5 percent or more have also taken place in Boise, ID; Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; Nashville, TN; and Portland, OR.


New supply drives falling rents in Sun Belt markets

At the metro level, year-over-year rent declines are especially prevalent across Sun Belt metros, topped by Austin, where prices are down 6 percent in the last 12 months. The Austin metro is also significant for permitting new homes at the fastest pace of any large metro in the county, signaling the important role construction plays in managing long-term affordability.

metro rg slowest 2024 02

In fact, the impact of new supply is evident in a number of the markets on this list. Atlanta, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Nashville, Orlando, and Raleigh all ranked among the top 10 for the most new housing permits issued in 2022. All of those markets are now also in the top 10 for sharpest year-over-year rent declines. As new units complete construction and hit the market, the influx of new supply is helping to keep prices in check. However, it’s important to note that all of these markets also saw year-over-year rent growth peaked above 20 percent in 2021 but now rank among the top 10 for fastest year-over-year declines. Despite some recent relief, waning affordability remains a challenge in these markets.


Midwestern and Northeastern markets have maintained positive rent growth

At the other end of the spectrum, the fastest rent growth has been occurring in metros across the Midwest and the Northeast. Most of the metros ranking high for rent growth over the past 6 and 12 months are located here. In the Northeast, the Providence, Hartford, Boston, and New York City metros are all in the top 10 for fastest year-over-year growth, while the Midwest is represented by Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Milwaukee.

metro rg fastest 2024 02

However, the top slot does not belong to either of these regions, but to Fresno, CA, indicating strong demand in one of the few remaining areas of relative affordability in California. Note however, that even the markets topping the list right now are experiencing fairly modest rent growth. No large metro has seen rents rise by more than 4 percent over the past year, and every single one has seen prices dip over the past six months.


Conclusion

December’s 0.3 percent rent decline continues the rental market’s winter dip, and keeps year-over-year rent growth in the negative at -1 percent. However, we’re nearing the end of the rental market’s winter slow season, and it’s possible that rent growth could turn positive again as soon as next month. But even when positive rent growth returns, it should be moderated by a robust construction pipeline delivering strong supply growth throughout 2024. With consumer sentiment about broader macroeconomic conditions beginning to improve, it’s possible that rental demand will also rebound in the year ahead, but likely not to an extent that would outweigh the impact of all the coming supply.


For complete data, explore the interactive map below or head over to our rental data page, where you can download the most recent estimates for your city, as well as historic data going back to 2017. And as always, feel free to contact us with any questions!



A Note on Our Methodology

Apartment List has long been committed to making our data products as accurate and transparent as possible. Our rent estimates and vacancy index are calculated as follows:

Rent Estimates: We estimate rent growth using a same-unit approach that controls for compositional changes in the rental stock. We also control for price fluctuations that arise over the course of a vacancy by identifying the last available list price before a unit gets rented as a proxy for its transacted price. Finally, we combat luxury bias in our rent data by benchmarking our reported rent levels to fully-representative median rent statistics from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Vacancy Index: Our real-time availability data allows us to calculate a daily vacancy rate for each of our partner properties, which we then average over the course of each month to calculate a monthly rate. Our overall index is an average of these property-level vacancy rates, weighted by the number of units in each property. We restrict our sample to properties that have been on Apartment List for at least six months and that have attained a stabilized vacancy rate of 15% or less.

For those interested in getting deeper in the weeds, please see our rent estimate methodology and vacancy index methodology. And if you have any questions or custom data requests, you can reach us at research@apartmentlist.com.

For more context on local data, check out our market-specific rent reports for the following cities:

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

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.


  1. In January 2024, the levels of our rent estimates were re-based with data from the 2022 American Community Survey (ACS), resulting in an adjustment to the rent levels reported in our historic time-series. The rent levels that we report are benchmarked to the latest Census estimates and then projected forward to present day using real-time price changes observed on our platform. This benchmarking is updated every year when new ACS data is released by the Census Bureau, as a routine part of our methodology. This update impacts only the levels of our estimates, while our reported growth rates remain unchanged. For more details, please see our complete methodolog explainer: https://www.apartmentlist.com/research/rent-estimate-methodology
  2. Housing comprises roughly one-third of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI inflation measure, and the BLS methodology is based on estimates of market rents for both rentals and owner-occupied housing, a concept referred to as owners’ equivalent rent.

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Apartment List Research Team
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The Apartment List Research Team is a small but mighty group of economists and analysts dedicated to understanding the rental market as it evolves rapidly. On our blog we publish original research reports and offer robust data products for public use. Read More
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