Realtor.com® May Rental Report: U.S. Rental Prices Reach the Highest Level in Two Years

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- With vaccination rates rising and many U.S. businesses beginning to scale back their remote work policies, the U.S. median rental price hit the highest point in two years in May, surpassing pre-pandemic growth at an increase of 5.5% year-over-year, according to the Realtor.com® Monthly Rental Report released today.

Nationally, the U.S. median rent was $1,527 per month in May. The median rent is now increasing faster than the 3.2% growth seen in March 2020 before the onset of COVID. In addition, one-bedroom and two-bedroom rentals reached new highs in May, while studio rents grew for the first time in ten months. 

"Led by emerging tech markets and secondary cities, U.S. median rent prices reached the highest level seen in more than two years in May, surpassing pre-COVID levels. More than three-quarters of the 50 largest markets also hit this milestone, with rents climbing at an average pace of 9.1% year-over-year – nearly two-times the overall inflation rate of 5%," said Realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. "Highlighting COVID's uneven impact across the U.S., rents continued to decline in the nation's largest metros like Los Angeles and Boston, where May prices were below prior peaks. However, some big cities, San Jose, are making big strides toward recovery, with rents on pace to see new highs later this year."

Smaller tech cities and alternative suburbs lead the national rebound
In May, the U.S. median rent was up 7.5% over the same time in 2019, a more normal period for market comparison. Recent surges have helped erase the slower rent growth that has taken place since March 2020. In 38 of the 50 largest U.S. markets, May rents reached the highest level since March 2019. In these markets, rents were climbing at an average pace of 9.1% year-over-year in May.

Riverside, Calif., Memphis, Tenn., Tampa, Fla., Phoenix and Sacramento, Calif. posted gains of more than 15% year-over-year in May. The median rent in Riverside was, up 19.2% year-over-year to $2,020 – higher than the national rent, but a relatively affordable alternative to nearby Los Angeles where the median rent was $2,581.

One-bedroom and two-bedroom rents reach highest levels in two years
In May, one-bedroom and two-bedroom rents reached the highest levels since March 2019, at $1,718 and $1,422, respectively. With remote work driving the need for more space, two-bedroom rental prices continue to grow, rising an average of 8% year-over-year.  Nationally, one-bedroom rents also saw sizable growth, up 5.8% year-over-year.

Studio rents saw their first positive growth (+1%) in 10 months, reaching a median rent price of $1,254. While studio rents have been experiencing declines throughout the pandemic, the May growth pace puts prices on track to reach a new milestone next month.

Big city rent declines soften year-over-year, shrinking the gap from pre-COVID peaks
Among the nation's 10 largest tech hubs, rent declines softened in May, declining just 2.3%, a significant improvement from the 6.6% decline seen earlier this year. Emerging tech hubs like Austin, Texas, and Denver continued to lead the rebound, with rents up 6.4% and 5.5% in May, respectively.

Rents remained below or at pre-COVID levels in some big cities that experienced significant pandemic-related disruption. Year-over-year rents were down 8.3% in San Francisco, 7.3% in San Jose and flat in New York. In these three markets, rents still need to grow an additional 9 to 12% to return to prior peak pricing.

With the gap shrinking between current and pre-COVID levels, price growth is beginning to return to more typical spring and summer seasonality – putting rents on track to reach new highs in the coming months.

May 2021 Rental Data - 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas

Metro

Median Monthly Rent

Rent YY

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.

$1,536

13.2%

Austin-Round Rock, Texas

$1,421

5.3%

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.

$1,600

6.7%

Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.

$1,039

9.4%

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.

$2,400

-3.8%

Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

$1,144

2.1%

Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.

$1,400

10.7%

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.

$1,650

-1.9%

Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.

$1,149

11.9%

Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio

$1,085

8.5%

Columbus, Ohio

$1,124

8.6%

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas

$1,339

7.2%

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.

$1,755

6.4%

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.

$1,159

6.3%

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.

$1,500

6.4%

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas

$1,250

4.3%

Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.

$1,093

9.7%

Jacksonville, Fla.

$1,260

9.6%

Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.

$1,109

4.6%

Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.

$1,340

12.2%

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif.

$2,581

-0.5%

Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.

$1,005

7.0%

Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.

$1,092

17.2%

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.

$2,000

5.8%

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis.

$1,355

0.4%

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis.

$1,468

0.8%

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

$1,390

5.5%

New Orleans-Metairie, La.

$1,350

8.0%

New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa.

$2,400

0.0%

Oklahoma City, Okla.

$834

5.6%

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.

$1,444

9.0%

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del-Md.

$1,600

3.2%

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

$1,543

16.8%

Pittsburgh, Pa.

$1,334

5.9%

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.

$1,595

6.7%

Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass.

$1,750

9.0%

Raleigh, N.C.

$1,318

9.9%

Richmond, Va.

$1,233

13.6%

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.

$2,020

19.2%

Rochester, N.Y.

$1,200

9.1%

Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif.

$1,760

15.8%

San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas

$1,105

5.7%

San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.

$2,389

11.1%

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.

$2,715

-8.3%

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

$2,795

-7.3%

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

$1,850

-2.6%

St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.

$1,145

9.6%

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.

$1,520

16.9%

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C.

$1,272

9.8%

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.V.

$1,931

-1.1%

Methodology
Rental data as of May 2021. Rental units include apartment communities as well as private rentals (condos, townhomes, single-family homes). All units were studio, 1-bedroom, or 2-bedroom units. National rents were calculated by averaging the medians of the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

About Realtor.com®
Realtor.com® makes buying, selling, renting and living in homes easier and more rewarding for everyone. Realtor.com® pioneered the world of digital real estate more than 20 years ago, and today through its website and mobile apps is a trusted source for the information, tools and professional expertise that help people move confidently through every step of their home journey. Using proprietary data science and machine learning technology, Realtor.com® pairs buyers and sellers with local agents in their market, helping take the guesswork out of buying and selling a home. For professionals, Realtor.com® is a trusted provider of consumer connections and branding solutions that help them succeed in today's on-demand world. Realtor.com® is operated by News Corp [Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA] [ASX: NWS, NWSLV] subsidiary Move, Inc. under a perpetual license from the National Association of REALTORS®. For more information, visit Realtor.com®.

Media Contact
rachel.conner@move.com

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