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Apartment List National Rent Report


Welcome to the May 2023 Apartment List National Rent Report. Our national rent index increased by 0.5 percent over the course of April. This is the third straight monthly increase in rent prices, but represents a slight slowdown from last month at a time of year when growth is typically picking up steam. This month’s increase was also less than the typical April price change that we saw in pre-pandemic years. Even though prices are trending up again, a combination of sluggish demand and increasing supply is keeping rent growth in check.

Year-over-year rent growth is continuing to decelerate, and now stands at 1.7 percent, its lowest level since March 2021. Year-over-year growth is now below the average rate from 2018 to 2019 (2.8 percent), and it is likely to decline even further in the months ahead.

On the supply side, our vacancy index currently stands at 6.8 percent, surpassing the average pre-pandemic rate and continuing to trend upward. With a record number of multi-family apartment units currently under construction, some property owners may start struggling to fill vacancies for the first time since the early stages of the pandemic.

Rents increased in April in 69 of the nation’s 100 largest cities, down from 83 cities that saw prices rise last month. At the same time, 40 of the top 100 cities are currently logging negative year-over-year growth up sharply from 28 cities last month. New York City saw the nation’s sharpest month-over-month increase, with prices there up by 1.9 percent in April.

Rents nationally increase by 0.5% month-over-month; prices up 1.7% year-over-year

The national median rent increased by a record-setting 17.6 percent over the course of 2021. This rapid growth in rent prices has been a key contributor to overall inflation, which remains top-of-mind for policymakers and everyday Americans alike. While our index has shown that rent growth has been consistently cooling since early last year, the housing component of the official inflation estimates produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the Consumer Price Index, or CPI) is just now appearing to reach its peak.1 This is because movements in market rents lead movements in average rents paid, meaning that our index can signal what is likely ahead for the housing component of CPI.

MoM rent growth apr23

We estimate that the national median rent increased by 0.5 percent month-over-month in April. This marks the third straight month of positive rent growth following a five-month period of prices falling. However, this month’s increase represents a slight slowdown from the 0.6 percent increase we saw in March, bucking the typical seasonal trend. The late spring and summer tend to be the busiest months for the rental market, meaning that rent growth is usually picking up steam at this time of year.

The fact that month-over-month growth fell from March to April indicates that the market cooldown we saw in the second half of 2022 is continuing, even if prices are now trending up. In fact, this month’s 0.5 percent increase was the second slowest April rent growth of any year in the history of our rent estimates (going back to 2017), ahead of only 2020, when prices fell in April amid the turmoil of the pandemic’s onset. From 2017 to 2019, rents increased by an average of 0.9 percent in April, nearly double this month’s increase.

As recession fears continue to grip many Americans, it’s likely that some households are delaying moves, translating to sluggish rental demand. And even if demand rebounds over the summer, a robust supply of new inventory hitting the market this year will continue to keep prices in check. The surging rent growth that we saw in 2021 and the first half of last year is now solidly behind us.

YoY rent growth apr23

Year-over-year rent growth is continuing to decelerate and now stands at just 1.7 percent, down from 2.4 percent last month. This month marks the lowest year-over-year growth rate that we’ve seen since March 2021, when rents were just starting to rebound from the modest declines of 2020. Year-over-year growth is now solidly below the average rate that we saw in pre-pandemic years; from 2018 to 2019, year-over-year rent growth averaged 2.8 percent. And it’s likely that the year-over-year growth rate will continue to fall in the coming months, as we expect that monthly rent growth this year will continue to be slower than last year through the end of the summer.

Vacancy index rising above pre-pandemic baseline

As we’ve explored in detail, much of the 2021 rent boom was attributable to a tight market in which more households were competing for fewer vacant units. Our vacancy index spiked above 7 percent in the early months of the pandemic in 2020, as many Americans consolidated households and moved in with family amid the uncertainty and economic disruption of the pandemic’s onset. After that, however, rapid household formation drove a sharp tightening of the vacancy rate, which eventually fell to a low of 4.1 percent in fall 2021.

vacancy index apr23

But after bottoming out at 4.1 percent in October 2021, our national vacancy index has been gradually easing for a year and a half, and the rate of easing has picked up steam since last summer. From January through August of last year, our vacancy index was inching up by an average of 11 basis points per month; but from last September through this month, the average increase has been 21 basis points per month. The vacancy rate now sits at 6.8 percent, which is slightly higher than the average 6.6 percent rate from 2018 to 2019.

This easing has shown no signs of slowing, and it’s likely that the vacancy rate will continue to trend even further upward in the months ahead. New apartment construction is recovering from pandemic-related disruptions, and there are now more multifamily units under construction than at any point since 1970. As this new inventory continues to hit the market over the course of the year, we may now be entering a phase in which property owners are competing for renters to fill their units, a marked change from the prevailing conditions of the past two years, in which renters have been competing for a limited supply of available inventory.

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 rise month-over-month in 69 of 100 largest cities; 40 cities have seen prices fall year-over-year

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. In 2020, we can see that rents fell sharply in many of the nation’s largest and most expensive cities, while smaller and more affordable ones picked up steam, leading to some convergence in prices. Meanwhile, the dark red band in 2021 represents the rent heatwave which peaked in July and August 2021 when all 100 cities in this chart saw prices go up. The rightmost columns show the recent cooldown and now the return back to modest positive growth.

top100 MoM rent growth apr23

Rents increased this month in 69 of the nation’s 100 largest cities, down from 83 cities that experienced positive month-over-month growth in March. The largest city-level increases this month were in New York City and neighboring Jersey City, both of which saw rents rise by 1.9 percent from March to April. Boston ranked third with an increase of 1.8 percent, indicating that expensive Northeastern cities are continuing to rebound, even as the national trend remains sluggish.

negative yoy growth map apr23

At the other end of the spectrum, there are a considerable number of cities that have seen prices fall since this time last year. 40 of the 100 largest cities now have negative year-over-year growth, a number that has been steadily increasing in recent months. Notable cities to dip into negative territory this month include Washington, D.C.; Jacksonville; Tampa; and Austin. The sharpest year-over-year decline was in Henderson, NV, where prices have fallen by 5.2 percent since last April. Price declines are now scattered throughout much of the nation, but the sharpest dips are concentrated in the West – particularly in the Phoenix and Las Vegas metros, which have cooled substantially from their early pandemic booms.

Midwestern markets have seen the fastest rent growth over the past year

At the metro level, the fastest rent growth over the past year has been occurring in the Midwest. The following table shows the ten metropolitan areas that have experienced the fastest rent growth over the past six months, over the past year, and over the past three years:

fastest metro rent growth apr23

The three metros with the fastest year-over-year rent growth are all located in the Midwest. Cincinnati leads the pack, with prices there up by 5.8 percent year-over-year, followed by Chicago with an increase of 5.6 percent, and Indianapolis at 5.4 percent. Three other Midwestern metros – Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbus – also make the top 10. With many previously affordable Sun Belt markets having seen rents spike by 30 percent or more over the past two and a half years, markets in the Midwest may now represent some of the last bastions of affordability, and could therefore be drawing new attention.

Of course, given the recent rental market cooldown, even the metros currently topping this list are experiencing relatively modest growth compared to what we were seeing in 2021 and the first half of last year. Last June, for example, all but one of the 52 metros with a population over one million logged year-over-year growth rates greater than Cincinnati's current 5.8 percent rate which is now the nation’s fastest. And over the past six months, just four large metros have seen prices increase.

Sun Belt cooldown spreads

As mentioned above, cities throughout the Phoenix and Las Vegas areas have seen some of the nation’s sharpest rent declines over the past year. At the metro level, rents in Phoenix are down by 3.8 percent year-over-year, the biggest dip among large metros; the Las Vegas metro ranks third with a decline of 3.7 percent. And in addition to those two metros, multiple other previously booming Sun Belt metros have now seen their year-over-year growth rates turn negative. The Tampa metro has seen the nation’s second fastest rent growth over the past three years (+38.7 percent), but rents there are down by 0.9 percent over the past year. Similarly, the Riverside metro ranks fifth fastest for three-year rent growth (+33.7 percent), but year-over-year growth there is now -2 percent. And in the Austin metro, where new housing is being permitted at the fastest pace of any large metro in the county, all the new supply seems to be tempering rent growth; prices there have also fallen by 0.9 percent year-over-year.

slowest metro rent growth apr23

The rightmost column shows that San Francisco is the only metro where rents are still lower than they were in April 2020. San Francisco is also the only metro to appear in all three columns of the table above, indicating its ongoing sluggishness. And given recent turmoil in the Bay Area tech landscape, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a strong rebound in the region’s rents anytime soon.


April’s 0.5 percent increase represents a slightly slower rate of growth than we saw last month, indicating that the market remains sluggish even as rents continue on an upward trajectory. Year-over-year growth fell again to 1.7 percent – putting it solidly below the pre-pandemic average from 2018 to 2019 – and will likely decelerate even further in the months ahead. And even if demand rebounds over the summer, a strong construction pipeline should temper rent growth for the remainder of the year. Prices may not fall further, but they are also unlikely to increase significantly.

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 Rent Estimate Methodology

Apartment List has long been committed to making our rent estimates as accurate and transparent as possible. With this in mind, we recently introduced a new methodology that rethinks our approach while building upon the robust foundation that was already in place. The most significant change in our new methodology is that we are now aiming to identify transacted rent prices, as opposed to the listed rent prices on which our old methodology was based. This controls for price fluctuations that arise over the course of a vacancy. Using these transacted prices, we calculate rent growth rates based on a same-unit approach that controls for compositional changes in the rental stock. As before, we continue to combat luxury bias in our rent data by using fully-representative median rent statistics from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

A full report on our new methodology is available here. 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. 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
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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