- The U.S. average rent ended the year with a 3% ($43) increase since last December, but decreased by a slight 0.1% ($1) month-over-month, dipping to $1,474 according to data from Yardi Matrix.
- Phoenix displayed the fastest annual rent increase in 2019 among renter mega-hubs, 9.8%, while Houston rents saw the slowest rise, 1.4%.
- Wichita, KS remains the country’s most affordable city for renters, at $663 per month, while the average monthly rent in Manhattan is $4,211.
At year-end, the national average rent sees the slowest annual rise in 17 months
Nationally, apartments were renting for $1,474 on average at the end of 2019, after the slowest annual rise in the past 17 months, 3%. Furthermore, rates displayed a slower yearly growth at the end of 2019 than in the previous year, when they went up by 3.2% according to apartment rent data from Yardi Matrix. In net dollars, renters are now paying $43 more per month for an apartment than they did in December 2018. By comparison, in the previous year, they saw a $45 rent hike compared to 2017.
The winddown comes after a decade of thriving apartment construction in which over 2.4M units were built across the nation. The U.S. economy remains strong while developers continue to deliver apartments in multiple locations. The apartment industry has made great strides since the great recession of 2008 and will remain a strong economic engine as we enter the new decade, says Doug Ressler, Manager of Business Intelligence at Yardi Matrix.
The national average rent also saw two consecutive monthly dips, declining by a slight 0.1% in both November and December. As fewer people look for new apartments during the cold season, rents usually slow down or decline, explaining why last month, prices flatlined in 94% of the cities we analyzed and shrunk in another 3%. Only 3% of cities saw apartment rents increase since November.
Check out the interactive map below to find out more about average rent prices in small, mid-sized, and large U.S. cities:
Rates increased in all the largest renter hubs last year
As more and more Americans have been shifting to renting, rates in all the most popular renter hubs went up in the past year. Phoenix ($1,123) posted the quickest growth in 2019, shooting up by 9.6% or $98. It’s also the only renter mega-hub that saw rates go up by more than 6%. The average rent in Las Vegas ($1,107) trails from behind after a 6% increase, followed by Austin ($1,436), where rates inflated by 5%. Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Austin are the star cities of 2019—they’re among the job hubs Americans are flocking to in search of a great deal and a great lifestyle, bringing about an upsurge in apartment prices.
On the other hand, the average rent in Houston ($1,109) rose the least in the past 12 months, by a modest 1.4%. Orlando ($1,423) and Manhattan ($4,211) follow suit with the second and third slowest yearly increases, 1.6% and 1.9%, respectively. The three cities are the only ones where prices went up by less than 2% year-over-year, as both Houston and Orlando built a healthy supply of new apartments in the past few years. Manhattan, meanwhile, is in line with expectations, as rents in pricey urban areas have been rather slow-paced in the last couple of years.
Manhattan was the nation’s priciest large city throughout 2019
New York and California dominated the top 5 priciest large cities for renters throughout 2019, with exclusive Manhattan ($4,211) remaining at the top of the podium at the end of the year. Meanwhile, rates may have decreased by $14 in runner-up San Francisco ($3,688) in December, but still saw moderate year-over-year growth ($75). Boston’s $3,438 average rent comes in third after a notable $121 rise in the past year, while Brooklyn ($2,929) is inching closer to the $3,000 threshold, with its prices going up by $101. However, San Jose goes against the grain—it’s the only large city where rates actually decreased year-over-year, by $32.
The five most affordable large cities for renters all have rents below $1,000. Oklahoma City’s average rent increased by $30 in the past year, reaching $784. El Paso ($792), the runner-up, saw prices go up by $20, while Memphis ($818) comes in third after a $32 year-over-year increase.
California dominated the priciest mid-size cities ranking last year
Four California cities were continually present in the priciest mid-size city rankings last year. Oakland led the top 5 throughout 2019—its average rent reached $2,908 in December, after a significant $151 annual rise since last year. Southland hotspots Long Beach ($2,124) and Santa Ana ($1,961) follow, with their average rates increasing by $116 and $42, respectively. Usual suspect Anaheim and its $1,857 average rent (up $77 in the past year) is the last California city in the ranking.
Wichita ($663) continues its reign as not only the most affordable mid-size city but the most affordable out of all cities in our report. Its average rate increased by a modest $20 in the past year, reaching $663 in December. Tulsa apartments come in second ($712), with their prices going up by $29 year-over-year. The rent in Tucson ($906), meanwhile, saw a $51 yearly increase.
Toledo displaced Brownsville as the most affordable small city for renters
Toledo ($729) comes in first in the top 5 most affordable small cities for renters, after dethroning Brownsville in May. However, Brownsville’s $733 average rate closely follows, even though it increased by $42 year-over-year. Prices in Amarillo, meanwhile, went up $23 in the past year, reaching $758 in December.
San Mateo maintains its position at the top of the priciest small cities ranking. Its rent increased by $74 year-over-year, up to $3,288 in December. Cambridge’s average rate takes second place after a substantial $127 yearly increase. Sunnyvale ($2,940) chugged along to third place after a modest $32 increment.
Most renters searched for 2-bedroom apartments last year
With 46% renters searching for 2-bedroom apartments in 2019, they’re the most sought-after homes on RentCafe.com. 1-bedroom apartments are the second most popular, as 27% of potential renters looked for these types of units last year. Meanwhile, 3-bedroom apartments and studios come in third and last, making up 16% and 12% of searches, respectively.
When it comes to Google searches, potential renters put proximity first—a whopping 59.8% of last year’s queries were for the keywords apartments near me. Studio (9.8%) was the second most-searched-for term associated with apartments, while cheap (9.6%) came in third, revealing a budget-oriented mindset among renters.
Curious about rents in cities like Philadelphia, Charlotte, or Austin? See the average rent price in your city by using this interactive table:
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RentCafe.com 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 260 largest cities in the US. The data on average rents comes directly from competitively-rented (market-rate) large-scale multifamily properties (50+ units in size), via telephone survey. The data is compiled and reported by our sister company 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. Fully-affordable properties are not included in the survey and are not reported in rental rate averages. The national average rent includes over 130 markets across the U.S., as reported by Yardi Matrix.
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