July rent increase stops four-month skid

Multifamily rents were up $2 to $1,460 in July, ending a four-month slide in rent prices, according to Yardi Matrix.

July’s monthly gain is the first positive movement for apartment rents since February, before the coronavirus pandemic really took hold stateside. Twenty-five of the country’s top 30 apartment markets saw rents perform better in July than in June; month-over-month rent growth remains negative in 13 of those markets, but that’s still an improvement from 19 markets with sliding monthly rent growth during the previous month.

Several markets with large workforces in the tech sector saw month-to-month rent growth improve significantly. Seattle, Denver, Orlando and Austin all had negative monthly rent growth in June, but all logged rent increases in July. Rents in many such markets took substantial tumbles over the past several months as many workers with the chance to work remotely opted for more affordable rentals; with little room for rents to fall further, July’s rebounds could portend the beginning of a turnaround — though monthly rent shifts tend to be volatile, especially given the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.

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Year-over-year rent growth, on the other hand, remained negative nationally at -0.3% in July, unchanged from the month prior. West Coast and gateway markets, many of which were the hardest hit by the initial waves of the coronavirus outbreak, continue to exhibit the steepest annual rent decreases. The list is led once more by Bay Area neighbors San Jose (down 5.0% annually) and San Francisco (down 4.1%), expensive tech hubs that bucked the trend and continue to see rents fall monthly. Compare those yearly decreases to last year’s figures, when rents in San Jose were up 2.0% annually, while rents in San Francisco grew by 2.8%.

California’s Inland Empire, on the other hand, led the nation in year-over-year rent growth at 3.4% in July, perhaps benefiting as an alternative to expensive coastal markets. Phoenix, another inland alternative, wasn’t far behind at 3.2%, with less expensive renter hubs like Indianapolis (2.8%), Sacramento (2.4%) and Kansas City (2.2%) rounding out the top five.


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