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National Rents on Pause for the Entire Peak Rental Season, Including Priciest Cities; Mid-Sized Cities Continue Rally

Key takeaways:

  • The national average rent was $1,354 in September, remaining virtually flat for the 4th month in a row, and showing the slowest annual growth in six years — 2.2% — according to Yardi Matrix.
  • 82% of the 250 biggest cities in the U.S. (205 in total) experienced growth over the past year; 35 cities saw rents flat-line, and 10 cities had rent decreases.
  • Texas tertiary markets are at both ends of the scale: Lubbock and Round Rock saw the biggest y-o-y rent decreases, while Odessa and Midland the highest y-o-y increases in the country. 
  • Manhattan, San Francisco, Brooklyn rents have stabilized in September, with 0% month-over-month changes. 

National rents have barely moved through the entire peak rental season and into September, marking the longest period of stagnation in recent history — 4 consecutive months. Coming in at $1,354 for the month of September, the average rent is only 2.2 percent higher than this time last year. This is the slowest annual growth rate we’ve seen in more than six years — having reached a high point of 5.5%-5.6% peak growth around two years ago — a pretty good indicator that the rental market has entered calmer waters.

Still, that doesn’t mean rents have flat-lined everywhere. Though nationally and in the most expensive cities for renters prices have finally come to a full stop, there are still some holdouts—and it seems renters in smaller and mid-sized cities are not yet getting a break, on the contrary.


In-demand one-, two-bedroom units keep rising in price

One- and two-bedroom apartment units are seeing rents grow much faster than their larger and smaller counterparts. In fact, two-bedroom unit rents have jumped 2.8 percent in the last year, while studio apartments have risen just 1.9 percent. Coming in at $1,329 per month, rents on two-bedroom units actually dipped since August, but still clock in with the highest year-over-year growth rate out of all apartment sizes.

Three-bedroom units have posted rent growth of 2.4 percent since last year, hitting $1,555 per month in September—a 0.1 percent drop since August. Studio apartments, which average $1,190 now, rose 0.1 percent over the month, while one-bedrooms ($1,162) flat-lined over August.

Bedroom TypeAverage RentChange M-o-MChange Y-o-Y
1 Bed$1,1620.0%2.7%
2 Beds$1,329-0.1%2.8%
3 Beds$1,555-0.1%2.4%

Texas rents crack under pressure, New Orleans rents also take a plunge

The anticipated rent drops from Hurricane Harvey have not been realized in the city of Houston, but are seen in other Texas communities, with the biggest changes being outside of Harvey’s reach, as a result of the major apartment construction taking place throughout the state. Lubbock, located on the west side of the state, came in at No. 1 for biggest year-over-year rent decreases in the nation, with rents dropping 3.4 percent since 2016.

Rents for apartments in Round Rock, a suburb outside Austin—another city barely touched by Harvey, dipped to $1,092—3.4 percent below last year’s numbers. Round Rock took the No. 2 spot for biggest rent decreases of the year.

Texas claimed the third spot, too, with McAllen’s 2.6 percent drop in rents since last year, and three other Texas towns—College Station, Waco and Plano—also made the top 10, with decreases of 2.4 percent, 2 percent, and 1.1 percent, respectively. The rest of the list was spread throughout the nation, with California’s Simi Valley taking No. 4 (down 2.6 percent), New Orleans at No. 5 (down 2.4 percent), Manhattan, NYC at No. 8 (down 1.9 percent), and Tulsa, Oklahoma at No. 9 (down 1.5 percent.)

U.S. Cities Where Rents Have Fallen Y-o-Y

#CityStateChange Y-o-YAverage Rent
2Round RockTX-3.4%$1,092
4Simi ValleyCA-2.6%$1,842
5New OrleansLA-2.4%$1,090
6College StationTX-2.4%$1,173
8Manhattan (New York City)NY-1.9%$4,093

Mid- and small-sized cities continue to shock renters with fast-growing rents

Though smaller and mid-sized towns used to be a haven for renters looking to avoid the sky-high prices of large urban areas, it seems those days are in the past. September’s list of fastest-growing rents is dominated by small and medium-sized towns—many boasting double-digit growth since this time last year.

The Lone Star State’s Odessa and Midland—both hubs of oil and gas activity—came in at the top two spots, with jumps of 24.7 percent and 20.7 percent, respectively. Odessa rents now clock in at $1,060 per month, while Midland’s reach even higher, coming in at $1,225.

The rest of the nation’s fastest-growing rents can be found largely on the West Coast, with California, Washington, Nevada and Colorado taking up the remaining bulk of the list. The only Northeastern cities to see big year-over-year rent growth were Buffalo, New York, with an 11.2 percent jump over 2016, and Elizabeth, New Jersey, which saw rents climb 8.5 percent to $1,187.

The housing market follows a cyclical path. The fact that the prime summer seasonality did not cause significant rental growth is the latest signal that the market may be cooling. However, these changes will be felt gradually, first in the largest and most expensive cities, followed by mid-sized markets, and eventually trickling down to smaller towns.  We anticipate different situations happening at the local level depending on the local economy and how many apartments are available to serve the local needs, Doug Ressler, Senior Analyst with Yardi Matrix explains.

The Cities with the Fastest Growing Rents – September 2017

#CityStateChange Y-o-YAverage Rent
6Colorado SpringsCO8.8%$1,074
9Thousand OaksCA8.3%$2,090

Other cities on the list are Lancaster, CA; Reno, NV; Colorado Springs, CO; Kent, WA; Thousand Oaks, CA and Sacramento, CA.

Northeast and SF Bay Area still too hot to touch, the good old Midwest and Texas most affordable

Despite the big jumps in cities like Midland and Odessa, Texas is still home to many of the nation’s lowest rent prices. Killeen, Brownsville and Amarillo all made the list of lowest rents this month, coming in with averages of $688, $694 and $726.

Not surprisingly, the Midwest also boasts a big portion of America’s most affordable rents, with Wichita, Kansas taking the No. 1 spot. At just $633 per month, Wichita rentals demand the single lowest rent in the entire nation — and has held that rank for many months running. Midwestern cities Independence, Missouri; Toledo, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Dayton, Ohio, also made the list.

On the other end of the spectrum, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, and Boston are the sky-high rent trifecta. The Bay Area dominates the list of the most expensive rents yet again, claiming five of the top ten spots. San Francisco is second in the U.S. with an average rent of $3,440 per month, and Boston apartments are third with $3,232.

Manhattan is, of course, No. 1 with an average monthly apartment rent of no less than $4,093. Neighboring Brooklyn also made the top 10 list, with rents of $2,724 in September.

Top 10 Cities with the Highest Rents - September 2017

CityStateAverage Rent
San FranciscoCA$3,440
San MateoCA$3,083
Jersey CityNJ$2,859
Santa ClaraCA$2,750
San JoseCA$2,646

Top 10 Cities with the Lowest Rents - September 2017

CityStateAverage Rent
Fort WayneIN$719
Oklahoma CityOK$725

Rents stay put in priciest U.S. cities at the end of the 2017 peak rental season

Just like national rents were steady this peak season, so were the country’s most expensive locales. The Northeast and West Coast have laid claim to the priciest rental markets for ages, and September’s numbers show no signs of a change.

As in August, Manhattan, San Francisco, Boston and San Jose all came in with some of the most expensive average rents in America, but none increased over the month and have shown weak year-over-year growth.

In Sunnyvale, California, rents are now $2,793 per month—the nation’s seventh most expensive and a 5.6 percent jump since last year. Santa Clara, California has seen a 4.1 percent uptick in rents over the year, and San Mateo’s rents have risen 3.1 percent. The price of apartments in Jersey City (now at $2,859) climbed more moderately by 2.7 percent over the previous year.

The peak season may be over, but with these sorts of numbers on the books, renters in these historically expensive markets should not expect any major changes.

Curious about rent in cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, Cincinnati, or Dallas? See where your city stands when it comes to rents by checking out this table:

CityStateAverage RentChange M-o-MChange Y-o-Y
Manhattan (New York City)NY$4,093 0.00%-1.90%
San FranciscoCA$3,440 0.00%0.40%
BostonMA$3,232 -0.50%0.00%
San MateoCA$3,083 -0.40%3.10%
CambridgeMA$3,039 -0.70%0.50%
Jersey CityNJ$2,859 0.60%2.70%
SunnyvaleCA$2,793 -0.60%5.60%
Santa ClaraCA$2,750 -0.50%4.10%
Brooklyn (New York City)NY$2,724 0.00%-0.90%
San JoseCA$2,646 -0.60%2.60%
OaklandCA$2,520 -0.30%0.30%
Daly CityCA$2,510 0.80%3.70%
IrvineCA$2,383 0.20%3.60%
StamfordCT$2,377 -0.30%0.50%
PasadenaCA$2,354 1.40%3.30%
FremontCA$2,354 -0.50%0.80%
GlendaleCA$2,299 0.30%1.80%
Los AngelesCA$2,289 0.30%6.30%
BellevueWA$2,158 -0.30%5.90%
CarlsbadCA$2,152 0.00%1.10%
BurbankCA$2,132 0.40%1.70%
Thousand OaksCA$2,090 -0.50%8.30%
ArlingtonVA$2,088 -0.50%0.60%
WashingtonDC$2,072 0.30%0.10%
HaywardCA$2,047 -0.20%3.20%
San DiegoCA$2,033 -0.30%3.30%
SeattleWA$2,016 -0.10%7.30%
Huntington BeachCA$2,006 0.20%3.20%
Costa MesaCA$1,983 0.30%2.20%
OrangeCA$1,962 0.30%4.00%
ConcordCA$1,877 -0.40%3.40%
Long BeachCA$1,865 0.30%2.20%
YonkersNY$1,862 -0.30%7.30%
Santa RosaCA$1,855 1.20%6.40%
Santa ClaritaCA$1,851 -0.10%1.80%
VenturaCA$1,846 0.20%7.00%
Simi ValleyCA$1,842 -0.30%-2.60%
OxnardCA$1,836 0.50%6.00%
ChicagoIL$1,825 0.10%4.00%
MiramarFL$1,819 0.40%1.80%
Santa AnaCA$1,814 0.20%2.80%
FullertonCA$1,804 0.20%4.70%
TorranceCA$1,777 0.00%6.50%
Rancho CucamongaCA$1,753 0.80%3.80%
BoulderCO$1,749 -0.40%1.20%
Fort LauderdaleFL$1,744 -0.50%2.50%
DavieFL$1,732 -0.60%3.30%
AnaheimCA$1,702 0.40%5.30%
VallejoCA$1,696 0.30%4.40%
West CovinaCA$1,689 0.20%6.40%
OceansideCA$1,679 -0.20%4.00%
Pembroke PinesFL$1,673 0.00%6.80%
AlexandriaVA$1,672 -0.60%0.50%
VistaCA$1,665 0.20%2.00%
Garden GroveCA$1,651 -0.10%5.00%
FairfieldCA$1,646 -0.30%4.90%
Chula VistaCA$1,636 -0.40%5.50%
Coral SpringsFL$1,633 -0.40%1.40%
RosevilleCA$1,623 0.20%6.70%
New HavenCT$1,612 -0.20%4.10%
MiamiFL$1,597 -0.40%2.50%
RentonWA$1,595 -0.40%6.00%
CoronaCA$1,588 0.80%4.30%
OntarioCA$1,577 0.20%3.60%
MurrietaCA$1,569 0.60%4.30%
TemeculaCA$1,562 1.10%3.90%
SalinasCA$1,555 -1.50%4.90%
HillsboroOR$1,543 0.30%4.50%
EdisonNJ$1,526 0.10%3.20%
DenverCO$1,518 -0.30%3.30%
PhiladelphiaPA$1,496 -0.30%1.40%
EscondidoCA$1,481 -0.10%4.60%
Santa MariaCA$1,479 -2.50%3.10%
MinneapolisMN$1,471 0.30%4.70%
NapervilleIL$1,458 -0.50%3.50%
PortlandOR$1,458 0.40%0.70%
PomonaCA$1,442 0.80%0.60%
LakewoodCO$1,442 -0.30%4.90%
Ann ArborMI$1,442 -0.70%2.50%
RiversideCA$1,429 0.80%5.30%
Fort CollinsCO$1,427 -0.40%5.50%
El CajonCA$1,418 0.10%5.20%
Sandy SpringsGA$1,415 0.10%4.40%
KentWA$1,409 -0.10%8.80%
Moreno ValleyCA$1,377 0.40%5.40%
WestminsterCO$1,363 -0.40%1.50%
EverettWA$1,362 -0.40%5.00%
ThorntonCO$1,358 -0.30%2.00%
AtlantaGA$1,354 0.10%3.80%
West Palm BeachFL$1,332 0.80%3.90%
HollywoodFL$1,329 -0.10%4.30%
FriscoTX$1,317 -0.80%1.10%
AustinTX$1,309 -0.20%0.50%
ScottsdaleAZ$1,308 0.60%4.40%
ArvadaCO$1,303 -0.40%4.60%
Pompano BeachFL$1,301 0.40%6.40%
RichardsonTX$1,293 -0.80%0.50%
OrlandoFL$1,282 -0.20%3.70%
AuroraCO$1,277 -0.40%4.30%
AuroraIL$1,270 -0.10%2.80%
PearlandTX$1,263 0.90%0.20%
SacramentoCA$1,263 0.60%8.10%
NashvilleTN$1,258 -0.60%2.90%
HialeahFL$1,256 -0.30%4.90%
ManchesterNH$1,244 -0.10%3.40%
PlanoTX$1,243 -1.20%-1.10%
EugeneOR$1,237 -0.10%2.80%
TempeAZ$1,228 0.70%5.20%
CharlestonSC$1,226 -1.00%1.80%
MidlandTX$1,225 2.00%20.70%
BaltimoreMD$1,225 0.20%3.40%
VancouverWA$1,223 0.50%3.60%
McKinneyTX$1,217 -1.10%0.90%
TampaFL$1,209 -0.20%4.60%
St. PetersburgFL$1,205 -0.50%5.50%
GreshamOR$1,200 0.40%1.10%
MadisonWI$1,195 -0.70%2.40%
HartfordCT$1,191 -0.50%2.70%
NewarkNJ$1,188 2.50%6.30%
ElizabethNJ$1,187 1.40%8.50%
FontanaCA$1,185 0.30%5.10%
College StationTX$1,173 -0.50%-2.40%
TacomaWA$1,172 0.40%7.70%
RialtoCA$1,155 0.30%2.40%
LancasterCA$1,154 0.30%11.90%
ChesapeakeVA$1,153 -0.70%3.00%
PittsburghPA$1,147 -0.30%2.60%
DentonTX$1,145 0.00%1.70%
TallahasseeFL$1,145 -0.10%1.40%
GainesvilleFL$1,145 -0.30%3.30%
Virginia BeachVA$1,142 0.00%2.10%
CarrolltonTX$1,141 -0.70%2.40%
CharlotteNC$1,139 -0.30%2.80%
CaryNC$1,137 -0.10%2.30%
DallasTX$1,133 -0.40%3.80%
ChandlerAZ$1,126 0.50%3.70%
RaleighNC$1,122 0.20%2.90%
RenoNV$1,121 0.10%11.00%
GilbertAZ$1,113 0.90%2.80%
BrandonFL$1,112 -0.50%0.50%
Salt Lake CityUT$1,108 0.00%4.80%
ClearwaterFL$1,106 -0.20%3.10%
San BernardinoCA$1,105 0.20%4.10%
HendersonNV$1,104 -0.70%2.70%
LewisvilleTX$1,102 -0.30%1.00%
IrvingTX$1,098 -0.30%4.00%
ModestoCA$1,096 0.00%5.60%
MilwaukeeWI$1,095 0.20%1.70%
Round RockTX$1,092 -0.60%-3.40%
New OrleansLA$1,090 -0.20%-2.40%
DurhamNC$1,081 0.20%4.60%
Colorado SpringsCO$1,074 0.70%8.80%
West JordanUT$1,070 0.70%0.80%
OdessaTX$1,060 1.60%24.70%
Baton RougeLA$1,056 0.00%2.20%
StocktonCA$1,054 0.30%7.10%
MurfreesboroTN$1,053 -0.40%2.40%
GreeleyCO$1,049 -0.30%2.90%
SyracuseNY$1,045 0.80%2.70%
HoustonTX$1,043 0.70%0.20%
WilmingtonNC$1,039 0.60%3.20%
West Valley CityUT$1,038 -0.10%2.90%
Fort WorthTX$1,033 0.00%5.30%
NorfolkVA$1,029 0.10%1.80%
Grand PrairieTX$1,027 -0.20%5.80%
Overland ParkKS$1,022 0.10%1.30%
SavannahGA$1,021 -0.10%2.10%
BuffaloNY$1,013 -0.20%11.20%
BoiseID$1,009 0.40%4.80%
ClevelandOH$1,009 0.10%3.70%
RichmondVA$1,008 -0.10%3.10%
VictorvilleCA$1,005 0.20%6.10%
San AntonioTX$979-0.10%1.90%
North CharlestonSC$972-0.60%3.50%
Corpus ChristiTX$9570.90%-0.40%
Grand RapidsMI$9450.50%2.90%
Las VegasNV$936-0.10%4.00%
Kansas CityMO$928-0.40%1.50%
North Las VegasNV$926-0.10%2.10%
Newport NewsVA$901-0.10%1.30%
St. LouisMO$880-0.10%2.60%
Des MoinesIA$866-0.10%7.70%
Sterling HeightsMI$8650.00%2.70%
South BendIN$861-0.50%2.70%
Broken ArrowOK$789-0.30%0.90%
Las CrucesNM$7790.60%0.40%
Little RockAR$766-0.10%-0.30%
Kansas CityKS$755-0.70%0.10%
High PointNC$749-1.30%1.60%
El PasoTX$7450.40%0.10%
Oklahoma CityOK$7250.00%-0.80%
Fort WayneIN$719-0.30%2.60%
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Other cities on the list are Cambridge, MA; Oakland, CA; Daly City, CA; Irvine, CA; Stamford, CA; Pasadena, CA; Fremont, CA; Glendale, CA; Bellevue, WA; Carlsbad, CA; Arlington, VA; Hayward, CA; Seattle, WA; Costa Mesa, CA; Yonkers, NY and Edison, NJ.

About RentCafe and How We Compiled the Data

RentCafe is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.

To compile this report, RentCafe’s research team analyzed rent data across the 250 cities in the US. The report is exclusively based on apartment data related to buildings containing 50 or more units. Our report includes cities with populations over 100,000 and a rental stock of at least 2,900 apartments in 50+ unit buildings.

Rent data was provided by Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors. Rental rate coverage is for Market Rate properties only. Fully Affordable properties are not included in the Yardi Matrix rental surveys and are not reported in rental rate averages.

Starting with the January rent survey, Yardi Matrix is using a methodology that incorporates more properties into the sample which caused slight changes in overall rents and year-over-year changes compared to the previous reports. We expect this methodology adjustment to produce more accurate averages at the national and metro levels.

*National averages include 124 markets across the US, as reported by Yardi Matrix.

Nadia Balint
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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