More renters looking for new apartments — and with increased urgency, Apartment List says

Even with the surging Delta variant causing uncertainty across the nation, it appears that more renters may be actively looking for new apartments than ever, according to Apartment List.

According to a new blog post from the rental search website, Google search volume for the keywords “apartments for rent” hit their all-time peak — at least since 2004, the earliest that Google Trends data is available — in July 2021.

The all-time high is especially notable considering that search volumes for apartments this summer have consistently trended 10% higher than in previous summers, when apartment searches typically already hit a seasonal high.

Interestingly, data evaluated by Apartment List also suggests that apartment hunters are seeking new homes with intensified urgency. In tracking urgency, the site looked to its own data, labeling users who described themselves as “just looking” or “in no hurry” as low-urgency movers. On the other hand, those who said they “need to move” (although retain some flexibility) or “gotta move” as high-urgency movers, generally looking to find a new lease that begins in less than a month.

Per Apartment List’s figures, the share of high-urgency users searching for new homes peaked at 57% in June, another all-time high. Many factors could be at play, including the need to relocate closer to employment now that offices are reopening or the expiration of leases signed during the pandemic when many renters chose to delay looking for new apartments.

Whatever the reasons, a larger pool of renters searching for new apartments with increase urgency only serves to heighten competition, driving already rapidly rising rents even faster upward. Rents, according to Yardi Matrix, jumped a record 8.3% year over year in July, with many markets across the country seeing double-digit annual rent gains. Apartment List’s own estimates have rent prices jumping more than 11% just in the first half of 2021 alone, more than triple the typical increases logged in the years before the COVID-19 pandemic.


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