Economy Watch: Apartments Rents Falling in Some Major Markets

While nationwide apartment rents continued to rise in 2017, 14 of the largest U.S. cities saw average rents either decrease, stagnate or grow slower than the national average, a recent RentCafé report noted.

Source: RentCafe 2017 Year End Rent Report; Yardi Matrix
Source: RentCafe 2017 Year End Rent Report; Yardi Matrix

Apartment rents were still going up nationwide in 2017, according to a new report by RentCafé. The national average apartment rent in 2017 increased by 2.5 percent year-over-year, reaching $1,359 per month at the end of 2017, according to Rent Cafe, citing Yardi Matrix data. Not only is that up for the year, but considerably higher than before the recession: in December 2007, the national average was just below $1,100.

Rent prices fluctuated the most in smaller cities, the report noted, with the five highest year-over-year increases in: Odessa and Midland, Tex.; Buffalo, NY; Lancaster, Calif.; and Reno. Odessa experienced a whopping 33.6 percent rent growth during 2017, with Midland not far behind, up 28.2 percent, as the energy sector recovered somewhat. Las Vegas saw the highest rate increases in 2017 of all large cities (up 6.3 percent), followed by Detroit and San Diego.

Metro moves

New York City rents, long some of the highest in the country (as indeed they still are), were nevertheless among the top five in the nation in terms of decreases in 2017, alongside the much smaller markets of Lubbock, Tex.; Charleston, S.C.; and Kansas City, Kan. Average rents in Manhattan and Brooklyn both were down 1.7 percent for the year.

New York isn’t the only large market to see a drop, or not much rental growth, in 2017. The previously white-hot markets of Portland, Ore., saw rents drop by 1.2 percent, according to RentCafe, and Austin only experienced an increase of 0.9 percent for the year. 

Indeed, renters in 14 of the largest U.S. cities saw average rents either decrease, stagnate or grow slower than the national average of 2.5 percent during 2017. These included such highly active markets as Washington, D.C., Nashville and San Antonio, where the high demand for rental housing was met with enough new apartments to temper prices.