Apartment rents reach record high, but signs of moderation turning up

Multifamily rents nationwide reached an all-time high of $1,558 in September, according to Yardi Matrix. Year over year, rents were up a record 11.4% during the month, continuing a run of astronomical gains in 2021 — though signs are surfacing that the market has begun to slow.

Monthly rent growth during September, for example, was at $16, an uptick of 1.0%. Taken in a historical context, that’s a strong figure, adding to a streak of monthly rent gains of $15 or over since March. September’s rise, though, is a slowdown of 80 basis points from August, marking the smallest rate of increase in six months. Before September, monthly rent increases had been above 1.2% every month since February.

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Part of the moderation may be attributed to seasonality, as September is typically the month when rent growth begins to taper ahead of winter. For some markets, like Seattle, Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul, seasonality has helped push monthly rent growth into the negative. In the case of the first three — all gateway markets that saw renters flock to less expensive areas when COVID-19 hit — it has somewhat slowed a rebound from depressed rental markets spurred by struggles during the pandemic’s early stages.

Generally, though, the rental landscape remains in a position of strength. Annual rent growth in September was positive for all of the top 30 metros tracked by Yardi, with Phoenix, Tampa and Las Vegas, all sporting over 20% yearly gains, continuing to lead the way. Warm weather metros, crossing the country from Florida and Georgia to California and Nevada, continue to dominate the top of the annual rent growth list, with the top 15 markets for year-over-year rent gains all situated in the Sun Belt.


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