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Atlanta Suburbs Beat City with Fastest Growing Rents in 2016

Rents have been creeping up in Atlanta over the last 3 years, the average rent within the city limits hitting the $1,300/month mark at the end of 2016, while the metro area average reached $1,128/month in December 2016, increases of 24% and 25% respectively from 3 years prior, according to Yardi Matrix apartment data.

Atlanta Metro vs Atlanta City vs NAtional Average rent 2015 vs 2016

For such a strong local economy, with an increasing number of high-paying jobs, and a surging population, the Atlanta rental market is in pretty good shape compared to other large cities, as it stands nowhere near the top 10 cities for highest rents.

That’s not to say that nothing interesting is happening the metropolitan area. Some of Atlanta’s suburban markets were hyper-active last year:

Chamblee rents are growing faster than any other area in or around Atlanta

According to Yardi Matrix, rents in metro Atlanta grew by 5.5% in 2016, on average. However, a few suburban areas saw some real action last year, with rent growth through the roof, thanks to an influx of renters attracted by the suddenly hip suburban lifestyle, and the suburbs’ failure to meet the demand with new apartments.

That’s exactly what’s happening in the northern DeKalb County community of Chamblee, where apartments are in high demand, bumping up rates by 13.7% in just one year, more than in any other town in the metro area and more than in any of the most expensive zip codes of Atlanta. A spillover effect of high rent prices in Atlanta’s northeastern neighborhoods, apartments in Chamblee are getting pricier and pricier, reaching on average $1,207/month in December 2016, and are not showing any signs of slowing down. Neighboring Brookhaven is also setting itself up to take advantage of this booming rental market, with several new apartment projects in the plans.

atlanta map 1

Following closely with a 13.1% year-over-year price increase were rentals in Morrow. Known as a more affordable south suburban market, with an average rent of $813/month, Morrow benefits from its proximity to I-75, making for a fast commute to downtown Atlanta, turning it into a soon-to-be not-so-affordable place to live. Its growing student population — as the home town of Clayton State University — may also have something to do with Morrow’s recent spike in rental prices.

The apartment market in unincorporated Lithia Springs is also on a surprisingly steep climb, with units now renting for a whopping 12.6% more than they did in 2015. The quiet community located just 20 minutes West of Atlanta has a fairly solid rental inventory of about 3,300 apartments, with an asking average rent of $1,076 per month as of the end of 2016.

Four other cities around Atlanta have had double-digit rent increases in 2016: Fairburn (11.7%), Lilburn (11.6%), Tucker (11.6%) and Jonesboro (10.5%). It’s no surprise to see Tucker, Lilburn and Fairburn on the list, already known as three of Atlanta’s best suburbs. The average rents in all three towns have managed to surpass the $1,000/month milestone during 2016 and are expected to keep growing, at a more moderate pace, as the suburban renting lifestyle is gaining momentum.

In 7th place for rent growth, up 10.5%, while still being among the cheapest in the metropolitan area — around $800/month — Jonesboro is a fairly large rental market. It has close to 6,000 rental apartments located in large-scale communities, more than the apartment stock in larger towns like Sandy Springs or Johns Creek.

Also in the top 20 metro markets with the fastest growing rents in 2016 are the popular towns of Peachtree City (8.8% growth), Norcross (8.2%) and Decatur (7.4%):

Most expensive markets are finally cooling off

Some good news for renters: rental prices in some of the area’s most expensive markets, like Suwanee, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Alpharetta and Johns Creek, appear to have finally hit a ceiling. Slowing down to a 1.3% y-o-y rent increase, Sandy Springs has been adding new units to its apartment inventory consistently over the past 3 years and this new supply seems to have done the trick for now.

Another softening market is Alpharetta, where rents grew by only 2.6% during 2016. Lots of new apartments have been built here in recent years, and thus a wider selection of apartments has helped tap the brakes on rents.

Prices are leveling off in the area’s most expensive rental market, Johns Creek, having increased by a modest 2.7% in 2016. Rentals come at a premium in this sought-after suburb, with the average price currently at $1,377/month, more than any other Atlanta suburban area. Also worth mentioning is Suwanee, where rents actually decreased slightly last year, by 0.5%.

Rentals in lower-priced towns like Fayetteville, Clarkston, Union City, Lithonia and Hampton have seen a decrease in demand, which translated into more sluggish rents. In Hampton, in particular, rent reductions in 2 of the larger apartment complexes in town dragged down the overall average rent by 5.4%.

Rentals in Marietta saw a moderate 5% price hike last year, an increase along the same lines as the metro rent growth (5.5%). The same goes for Smyrna apartments, which are now renting at prices 5.4% above the previous year’s rates, and Cumming, with prices up 5.2% in 2016.

Top 10 most expensive and cheapest places to rent in metro Atlanta

Those who prefer the more upscale suburban life, the most expensive places they’ll find are Johns Creek ($1,377), Sandy Springs ($1,359), Alpharetta ($1,323) and Suwanee ($1,320). Urban Atlanta comes in fifth place for most expensive apartments, with an average rent of $1,300, followed by Kennesaw apartments renting for $1,299/month. For those on a tight budget, last year’s cheapest places to rent were Forest Park ($644), Avondale Estates ($665) and East Point ($706).

Most-and-Least-Expensive-Rents-table

East Atlanta Takes Off, More Expensive Neighborhoods Hit the Brakes

And finally within the city of Atlanta, the busiest neighborhoods in terms of rent growth were not the ones you would expect. Not Downtown, not Atlantic Station, and definitely not Buckhead. The fastest growing rents in urban Atlanta in 2016 were in East Atlanta! Rents in zip code 30316 went up 13.5%, from $926/month the year before to $1,051/month now. Dubbed one of the hottest parts of Atlanta, it has had an influx of millennials and baby boomers alike, thanks to its lively streets, lots of entertainment and some great (and still affordable) housing options.

Second from the top is Kirkwood (zip code 30317), with a 9.5% y-o-y increase — from $958 to $1,049, another example of a lower-priced neighborhood revving up prices in response to stronger demand.

Meanwhile, rents went down in affluent zip codes 30327 (-2.2%) and 30305 (-1.5%), covering the neighborhoods of Buckhead and Peachtree Hills, where quite a few new residential buildings have opened up in the last year to the point that renters have gained some bargaining power. All in all, rents in one third of Atlanta’s zip codes grew faster than the Atlanta metro, and two thirds of zip codes were below the metro average rent growth rate.

Look up prices in your area:

Cities in Atlanta MetroAverage Rent 2016Average Rent 2015%
Change Y-o-Y
Units Delivered
Chamblee$1,207$1,06213.7%-
Morrow$813$71913.1%-
Lithia Springs$1,076$95612.6%-
Fairburn$1,024$91711.7%-
Lilburn$1,001$89711.6%-
Tucker$1,080$96811.6%112
Jonesboro$801$72510.5%-
Woodstock$1,199$1,0929.8%275
Stone Mountain$796$7289.3%80
Doraville$965$8849.2%-
College Park$756$6939.1%-
Douglasville$941$8639.0%-
Peachtree City$1,273$1,1708.8%-
Snellville$1,103$1,0158.7%-
Buford$1,121$1,0338.5%-
Norcross$981$9078.2%-
Forest Park$644$5968.1%-
Acworth$881$8197.6%100
Riverdale$749$6977.5%-
Decatur$928$8647.4%167
McDonough$1,035$9647.4%-
Austell$884$8257.2%-
Duluth$1,131$1,0577.0%-
Stockbridge$1,002$9396.7%-
Kennesaw$1,299$1,2186.7%252
Smyrna$1,110$1,0535.4%592
Cumming$1,229$1,1685.2%-
Marietta$1,052$1,0025.0%-
Canton$1,093$1,0444.7%-
Atlanta$1,300$1,2444.5%5,094
Avondale Estates$665$6384.2%-
Lawrenceville$1,058$1,0174.0%-
Conyers$919$8844.0%-
Roswell$1,157$1,1153.8%-
Mableton$830$8003.8%-
East Point$706$6813.7%-
Fayetteville$905$8753.4%-
Clarkston$834$8122.7%-
Johns Creek$1,377$1,3412.7%-
Alpharetta$1,323$1,2892.6%300
Union City$803$7852.3%-
Dunwoody$1,233$1,2062.2%-
Lithonia$905$8872.0%-
Sandy Springs$1,359$1,3421.3%416
Suwanee$1,320$1,326-0.5%-
Hampton$871$921-5.4%-

Source: Rent prices are actual rents in multi-family properties of 50 or more units, from Yardi Matrix, a RentCafe sister company.

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Nadia Balint
Nadia Balint is a senior creative writer for RENTCafé. She covers news and trends in residential and commercial real estate and their impact on our everyday life, including rental housing, for-sale housing, real estate development, homeownership, market reports, insurance, landlord-tenant laws, personal finance, urban development, economy, sustainability, and social issues. Nadia holds a B.S. in Business Management from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. You can connect with Nadia via email. Nadia’s work and expertise have been quoted by major national and local media outlets, including CNN, CNBC, CBS News, Curbed, The NY Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post as well as industry publications, such as GlobeSt, Bisnow, Inman News, Multifamily Executive, and The Commercial Real Estate Show. Nadia also wrote for Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive, HubSpot, and more. Prior to entering the real estate industry, Nadia worked in the legal field, where she gained over 10 years of experience in business, corporate, and real estate law.

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