In January, the U.S. median rent, which is calculated by averaging the median rent of the 50 largest metros, was up 0.8% to $1,442, below its pre-COVID growth rate of 3.2%. Despite the continued slower growth, January marked the first month since July 2020 where rental growth didn’t slow further, indicating that rent growth may have reached a floor.

Seven of the top 10 metros with the largest rent increases in January — New Orleans*; Sacramento, Calif.; Rochester, N.Y.; Cleveland; Riverside, Calif.; Cincinnati and St. Louis  — were also among the metros where home prices grew more than 5% year-over-year. 

Renters typically have more flexibility to move, and with remote work allowing many people to live anywhere, markets that offer affordability are in hot demand.

In California, Riverside and Sacramento have become desirable alternatives to the pricey Bay Area and Los Angeles housing markets. Despite a sizable 9.6% increase in the last year, the median rent in the Riverside metro was $1,858 in January, 25.4% lower than the median rent in neighboring Los Angeles. Likewise, the median rent in Sacramento was $1,649 in January, still 36.8% lower than the median rent in San Francisco despite its 11.0% rise in the last year.

Four of the top 10 markets with the largest year-over-year rent increases in January are located in the Midwest, a region that in recent years has attracted affordability-minded homeseekers looking for an alternative to the pricer coastal markets.

Markets With the Largest Rent Increases in January 2021

Markets With the Largest Rent Decreases in January 2021

Rental Data – 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas January 2021

Metro

Median Rent

Rent YoY

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.

$1,420

4.0%

Austin-Round Rock, Texas

$1,313

-2.7%

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.

$1,520

1.7%

Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.

$976

3.8%

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

$2,240

-8.2%

Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

$1,095

-6.0%

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

$1,295

2.4%

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

$1,600

-1.5%

Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.

$1,083

8.3%

Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio

$1,070

9.7%

Columbus, Ohio

$1,060

2.9%

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas

$1,255

-0.2%

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.

$1,605

-3.4%

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich

$1,137

5.8%

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.

$1,449

3.5%

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas

$1,185

-0.8%

Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.

$1,054

8.8%

Jacksonville, Fla.

$1,164

3.5%

Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.

$1,068

3.2%

Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.

$1,238

6.4%

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif.

$2,490

-5.1%

Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.

$964

4.0%

Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.

$1,000

8.1%

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.

$1,854

0.0%

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis.

$1,345

-0.7%

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

$1,425

-1.7%

Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tenn.

$1,310

0.2%

New Orleans-Metairie, La.

$1,300

18.2%

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

$2,430

6.1%

Oklahoma City, Okla.

$789

-1.3%

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.

$1,302

-3.6%

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

$1,550

3.3%

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

$1,368

3.0%

Pittsburgh, Pa.

$1,250

1.1%

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.

$1,490

-1.1%

Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass.

$1,650

6.8%

Raleigh, N.C.

$1,230

3.0%

Richmond, Va.

$1,129

3.8%

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.

$1,858

9.6%

Rochester, N.Y.

$1,154

9.9%

Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif.

$1,649

11.0%

San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas

$1,054

2.8%

San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.

$2,200

0.6%

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.

$2,610

-12.6%

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

$2,670

-11.1%

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

$1,709

-8.9%

St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.

$1,075

7.5%

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.

$1,375

6.9%

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

$1,215

7.0%

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

$1,840

-4.6%

*Editor’s Note: New Orleans’ exceptional year-over-year growth in median rent was driven by shifts in the underlying inventory of rental units. The number of studio units has declined by 17% year-over-year, while one-bedroom and two-bedroom unit inventory has increased by 50% and 31%, respectively. The larger space commands larger rents, therefore driving up the median rent in the area.

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

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