Median US rental price grew 19.3% year-over-year to US$1,781 in December, hitting sixth straight months of double-digit growth; rental trends reflect a shift in demand towards smaller rental units common to major metro centers: Realtor.com

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SANTA CLARA, California , January 26, 2022 (press release) –

The national median rental price reached $1,781 per month in December, bringing 2021 annual rent growth to an average of 10.1% versus 1.9% in 2020

New data shows national rents grew five times faster in 2021 than in 2020, on average, according to the Realtor.com® Monthly Rental Report released today. In December, rents notched the sixth straight month of double-digit yearly increases nationwide and surged in the majority of large metros, led by Miami, Tampa, Fla. and Orlando with gains of more than 34% each.   

"On average in 2021, national rents were more than 10% higher than in 2020. As our December report further illustrates, this average understates the wild ride that the rental market, and many renters, experienced in 2021. Rents started the year roughly flat and gained incredible momentum throughout the year, hitting double-digit yearly pace by summer and continuing to surge through December," said Realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. "While yearly growth is still strong, monthly growth cooled in December, which is typical for this time of year and not expected to last. With rents already at a high and expected to keep going up, rental affordability will increasingly challenge many Americans in 2022. For those thinking about making the transition from renting to buying their first home, rising rents will remain a motivating factor even as for-sale home prices and mortgage rates continue to climb."

2021 Realtor.com® Rental Metrics – National

Unit Size

Dec. 2021 Median Rental Price

Dec. 2021 Rent Change Over 2020

Average 2021 Rent Change Over 2020

Average 2020 Rent Change Over 2019

Overall

$1,781

19.3%

10.1%

1.9%

Studio

$1,462

18.6%

6.1%

-0.7%

1-bed

$1,651

19.3%

10.0%

1.9%

2-bed

$2,003

19.1%

11.7%

3.7%

 

The Streak Continues: U.S. rents hit sixth straight months of double-digit growth
Largely attributed to winter seasonality, the U.S. median rental price posted a smaller monthly gain in December compared to earlier in 2021. However, December rental trends also reflect a shift in demand towards smaller rental units common to major metropolitan centers. For instance, two-bedroom rents posted monthly declines for the first time since November2020 in December, after skyrocketing earlier in 2021 as workplace flexibility enabled some big city renters to explore smaller markets offering more space for their money. Now that more workers are returning to downtown offices, studio rents accelerated at a faster pace than larger unit rents in December and helped overall rents remain at a double-digit percentage point higher than in 2020 for the sixth month in a row. 

  • In December, the U.S. median rental price grew 19.3% year-over-year to $1,781, which was relatively flat from last month's level ($1,780).
  • Larger unit rents posted smaller monthly gains than seen from October to November, but grew by double-digits over December 2020. Among 0-2 bedroom units, the median rental price for one-bedrooms grew at the fastest annual pace, up 19.3% to $1,651.
  • December rental prices for two bedroom units ($2,003) increased 19.1% year-over-year, coming in slightly below the November median ($2,005).
  • The median studio rental price continued to accelerate in December, rising 18.6% over the same month in 2020 to a two-year high of $1,462.

A Major Comeback: National rents closed out 2021 strong, after a slow start
U.S. rental markets took consumers on a wild ride over the course of 2021. Following shallow growth in the first two months of the year, rents began to recover before hitting a double-digit pace in summer which continued through end-of-year. The early gains were led by secondary markets and larger units, driven by the migration of big city renters to smaller rental markets where budgets stretched further. Even as the big city rental recovery began, as reported in September, the 2021 surge in secondary rental market popularity and prices continued, and helped offset slower early-year growth. As a result, the average pace of growth in overall U.S. rents closed out the year at more than five-times faster than in 2020.

  • Nationally, rent growth hit a double-digit pace in 2021, up an average of 10.1% – 5.3 times higher than the 2020 rate (+1.9%) and above the Realtor.com® Forecast for 2022 (+7.1%).
  • With demand for space rising during COVID, larger unit rents posted the biggest annual gains among unit sizes in 2021, each rising at a double-digit pace. Over the past 12 months, average year-over-year rent growth for two-bedroom and one-bedroom units was 11.7% (+$196) and 10.0% (+$139), respectively.
  • Common to big cities that saw an exodus of renters earlier in the pandemic, studio rents declined at the beginning of 2021. However, studio rents began to recover in the second half of the year as downtown offices and attractions began to reopen, and ended 2021 at an average annual growth rate of 6.1% (+$76).

2021's Cinderella Story: Remote work drives skyrocketing rents in secondary markets
The real "Cinderella story" of the 2021 rental market was among smaller secondary metros. The year's fastest-growing rental markets were all outside of big tech cities, with the top 10 led by the relatively affordable Los Angeles alternative of Riverside, Calif. Rental popularity in these secondary metros was driven by a number of COVID-related trends in consumer preferences, including the need for more space and easier access to the outdoors. As a result, 2021 annual rent growth across the top 10, on average, was two times faster than the national rate.

  • In 2021, rents increased by an average of 20.7% in the top 10 markets, led by Riverside (+28.5%), Tampa (+25.6%), Memphis (+23.0%), Miami (+22.1%) and Sacramento (+19.5%). Additionally, December data shows many of these markets remained among the fastest-growing metro areas through end-of-year.
  • A key trend driving rental demand and price growth in these areas is rising workplace flexibility. In half of 2021's fastest-growing rental markets, LinkedIn data shows the share of job seekers applying for remote work roles is higher than national average (25.2%)1, led by Tampa (29.6%).
  • Comparatively, big tech cities dominated the 2021 list of slowest-growing rental markets, with average rent growth across these 10 metros ending the year at just 2.0%. However, 2021 data shows big city rents recovered significantly from sharp drops earlier in the year, with average rents declining in just two of the bottom 10. (see table below)

Hale added, "Regardless of where you live, renting is generally more expensive now than in prior years. However, expected income growth could give renters more negotiating power – especially if you continue to have workplace flexibility. Those able to work big city jobs while living in secondary metros are still likely to find more affordable rental options than in the biggest tech cities. Take the example of Tampa – despite being one of the fastest-growing rental markets in 2021, the December median rental price ($2,038) remained significantly lower than in a big northeastern city like New York ($2,670)."

Whether renters are interested in making a move to a new rental unit in their area or in another state, they can use the Realtor.com® Rentals App to fine-tune their search and set up alerts about new rental listings that match their criteria. For renters interested in making the transition to buying their first home, the Realtor.com® Rent vs. Buy Calculator provides helpful tools for helping them to assess the many financial factors and make the right decision for their families and budgets.

2021 Realtor.com® Rental Metrics – Metros with the Fastest and Slowest Rent Growth

Fastest Growth

Slowest Growth

Rank

Metro

Average 2021 Rent Change Over 2020

Rank

Metro

Average 2021 Rent Change Over 2020

1

Riverside, Calif.

28.5%

1

San Francisco, Calif.

-2.5%

2

Tampa, Fla.

25.6%

2

San Jose, Calif.

-0.3%

3

Memphis, Tenn.

23.0%

3

Chicago, Ill.

0.4%

4

Miami, Fla.

22.1%

4

Boston, Mass.

0.7%

5

Sacramento, Calif.

19.5%

5

New York, N.Y.

1.4%

6

Las Vegas, Nev.

18.9%

6

Minneapolis, Minn.

2.4%

7

Phoenix, Ariz.

18.8%

7

Washington, D.C.

3.0%

8

San Diego, Calif.

17.5%

8

Milwaukee, Wis.

4.7%

9

Jacksonville, Fla.

17.2%

9

Philadelphia, Pa.

4.8%

10

Orlando, Fla.

16.3%

10

Seattle, Wash.

5.2%

 

Dec. 2021 Realtor.com® Rental Metrics – 50 Largest U.S. Metro Areas

Metropolitan Statistical Area

Overall Median Rent

Overall Rent

Y/Y

Studio Median Rent

Studio Rent Y/Y

1-br Median Rent

1-br Rent Y/Y

2-br Median Rent

2-br Rent Y/Y

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.

$1,808

21.8%

$1,611

18.9%

$1,689

23.7%

$2,010

21.4%

Austin-Round Rock, Texas

$1,717

28.7%

$1,443

30.6%

$1,568

29.2%

$1,916

29.0%

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.

$1,769

13.6%

$1,595

24.4%

$1,706

14.0%

$1,873

13.0%

Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.

$1,249

22.2%

$1,083

7.2%

$1,191

22.1%

$1,313

24.2%

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

$2,726

18.5%

$2,470

28.6%

$2,535

18.6%

$3,000

15.3%

Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

$1,435

20.1%

$1,098

38.6%

$1,295

21.0%

$1,615

19.6%

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

$1,598

21.3%

$1,456

23.2%

$1,475

20.4%

$1,755

17.9%

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

$1,800

11.6%

$1,360

8.5%

$1,798

15.3%

$2,000

5.5%

Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.

$1,400

15.9%

$1,175

17.5%

$1,346

17.8%

$1,562

17.8%

Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio

$1,352

16.9%

$1,000

26.7%

$1,319

19.9%

$1,450

13.9%

Columbus, Ohio

$1,247

14.1%

$1,008

12.1%

$1,150

15.1%

$1,385

15.6%

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas

$1,590

23.4%

$1,353

25.8%

$1,456

24.9%

$1,893

24.7%

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.

$1,901

17.9%

$1,598

18.3%

$1,781

19.0%

$2,192

18.2%

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.

$1,400

12.1%

$1,150

15.1%

$1,240

18.2%

$1,529

11.7%

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.

$1,729

15.5%

$1,328

13.0%

$1,611

13.3%

$2,025

13.0%

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas

$1,389

15.9%

$1,312

19.5%

$1,263

17.3%

$1,570

17.0%

Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.

$1,226

12.0%

$1,023

6.0%

$1,117

8.8%

$1,356

12.9%

Jacksonville, Fla.

$1,583

29.0%

$1,380

29.9%

$1,476

30.3%

$1,728

31.2%

Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.

$1,225

11.2%

$989

10.5%

$1,100

10.5%

$1,455

12.4%

Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.

$1,631

29.8%

$1,126

32.4%

$1,505

30.3%

$1,769

29.4%

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif.

$2,952

18.1%

$2,252

18.5%

$2,707

19.9%

$3,467

18.4%

Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.

$1,181

16.2%

$938

3.8%

$1,074

12.1%

$1,322

16.7%

Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.

$1,324

29.4%

$1,173

19.6%

$1,317

33.0%

$1,371

28.3%

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.

$2,850

49.8%

$2,300

44.4%

$2,507

47.1%

$3,234

44.1%

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis.

$1,527

11.0%

$1,195

9.1%

$1,403

8.0%

$1,758

11.6%

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

$1,535

6.7%

$1,238

6.8%

$1,448

5.7%

$1,870

10.3%

Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tenn,

$1,693

23.6%

$1,676

23.5%

$1,600

24.1%

$1,815

25.1%

New Orleans-Metairie, La.

$1,774

18.3%

$995

-16.8%

$1,595

13.9%

$2,125

25.0%

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

$2,670

6.8%

$2,275

11.9%

$2,443

3.1%

$2,980

3.2%

Oklahoma City, Okla.

$949

15.7%

$785

5.4%

$896

20.6%

$1,008

13.6%

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.

$1,807

34.1%

$1,602

28.5%

$1,675

34.9%

$2,048

41.4%

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

$1,787

11.9%

$1,427

13.0%

$1,703

10.7%

$2,000

11.1%

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

$1,800

26.7%

$1,435

38.3%

$1,598

28.6%

$2,095

27.9%

Pittsburgh, Pa.

$1,500

18.5%

$1,275

31.4%

$1,458

22.5%

$1,613

13.4%

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.

$1,759

16.8%

$1,424

13.7%

$1,705

17.0%

$1,985

17.0%

Providence-Warwick,R.I.-Mass.

$2,000

15.9%

$1,650

3.8%

$1,755

11.4%

$2,263

19.0%

Raleigh, N.C.

$1,532

23.6%

$1,393

22.5%

$1,417

25.1%

$1,682

23.1%

Richmond, Va.

$1,419

18.2%

$1,153

17.2%

$1,316

22.3%

$1,558

19.3%

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.

$2,550

27.2%

$1,583

18.9%

$2,150

23.4%

$2,832

23.4%

Rochester, N.Y.

$1,333

11.1%

$945

5.0%

$1,200

8.1%

$1,495

10.9%

Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif.

$2,103

21.6%

$1,945

20.4%

$1,973

21.4%

$2,239

21.0%

San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas

$1,306

19.4%

$1,153

17.9%

$1,204

20.5%

$1,502

22.1%

San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.

$2,970

29.3%

$2,326

21.2%

$2,718

29.4%

$3,350

27.8%

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.

$2,956

11.1%

$2,433

19.1%

$2,760

12.8%

$3,490

10.7%

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

$2,998

13.6%

$2,463

23.9%

$2,771

15.9%

$3,410

15.0%

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

$2,110

21.9%

$1,728

26.7%

$2,069

22.5%

$2,563

25.1%

St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.

$1,262

9.7%

$975

1.3%

$1,200

9.1%

$1,388

11.0%

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.

$2,038

35.9%

$1,885

32.9%

$1,840

37.3%

$2,261

37.0%

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

$1,503

18.1%

$1,207

9.1%

$1,428

14.8%

$1,608

17.8%

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Va.-Md.-W. Va.

$2,102

13.6%

$1,724

14.6%

$2,009

12.7%

$2,448

12.7%

 

Methodology
Rental data as of December 2021 for units advertised as for-rent on Realtor.com®. 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. We use communities that reliably report data each month within the top 50 largest metropolitan areas. National rents were calculated by averaging the medians of the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

Note: Realtor.com® rental data history begins March 2019. As a result, the average year-over-year growth in 2020 is estimated based on rent data between March 2020 and December 2020.

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 25 years ago, and today through its website and mobile apps offers a marketplace where people can learn about their options, trust in the transparency of information provided to them, and get services and resources that are personalized to their needs. 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. For more information, visit Realtor.com®.

Media Contact
rachel.conner@move.com 

1 The 118-market average used by LinkedIn, which does not directly match Realtor.com® geographic areas used in this release.

 

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