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September 2019 Rent Report

August 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 September 2019 National Apartment List Rent Report! Our national rent index fell by 0.1 percent month-over-month. This is the first monthly decline in the index since February of this year, indicating that this year's peak rental season has come to an end. Year-over-year growth currently stands at 1.6 percent, slightly ahead of the rate from this time last year, but still lagging the growth rates we observed from 2014 through 2017.

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

National average Y/Y rent growth is a modest 1.6%

Our national rent index ticked down by 0.1 percent from July to August, a continuation of the slowdown in rent growth that began last month, following three months of rapid growth from March to June. Over that period, rents increased by 1.3 percent, the fastest growth over any three month period since the summer of 2017. However, that increased pace of rent growth has not persisted, and the leveling off of prices over the past two months represents an early end to the summer spike in rent prices.

Rent growth tends to be higher in the late spring and summer months due to seasonality in the market, and the robust growth we saw from March through June was one of the sharper seasonal spikes that we've seen in recent years. That spike ended relatively early in the season though, and we are now experiencing a return to the stagnant rent growth that characterized the market earlier in the year.

Our index's year-over-year growth rate of 1.6 percent is a bit ahead of the 1.0 percent rate from this time last year. That said, the current growth rate is still modest compared to the rates we observed from 2014 through 2017, which ranged from 2.1 percent to 3.6 percent.

Currently, rent growth is slightly trailing the overall rate of inflation, which stands at 1.8 percent as of the latest data release. Rent growth lags even further behind the growth in average hourly earnings, which have increased by 3.2 percent over the past twelve months. The fact that rent growth is still trailing income 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 of our national rent index, some parts of the country are experiencing much more rapid price increases.

Henderson, NV tops our list for the nation's fastest rent growth, with an increase of 4.7 percent over the last year, nearly three times the national rate. Henderson is located just outside of Las Vegas, which ranks third on the list at 3.9 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.

The Phoenix area is also experiencing rent growth well above the national average. The Phoenix suburb of Mesa, AZ ranks second for fastest rent growth in the nation at 4.4 percent, with Phoenix-proper coming in at fourth with year-over-year growth of 3.7 percent.

Texas and North Carolina also each 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. Many of these cities also represent more affordable options for those looking beyond the pricey coastal hubs, though continued rent growth at such a heightened pace could erode this affordability advantage.

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; Phoenix, AZ; Arlington, TX; and Stockton, CA -- also make the list for fastest rent growth over the past five years.

Stockton, CA, tops this list, with rent growth of 29.0 percent since August 2014. For comparison, our national rent index grew by just 11.7 percent over this period. Stockton sits on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay area, and 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 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.

Aurora, CO comes in second, with rent growth of 27.8 percent over the past five years, while nearby Colorado Springs ranks third at 28.1 percent. 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.

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!

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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