According to Yardi Matrix, as part of a seasonal respite, the national average residential rent in the U.S. decreased for the first time since February 2017, dipping by -0.1% ($1) from last month to $1,471. The decrease might seem insignificant, but coupled with the slowest year-over-year hike in the past 13 months, 3.2% ($45), it points to a slight wind-down in rent prices in the context of a more volatile financial climate.
Since last month, apartment rents saw minor declines in more than half of the cities we analyzed. Small and large cities lead the trend, with prices dropping in 59% of small cities and 56% of large cities, while 42% of mid-sized cities saw their rates dwindle in September 2019.
Provo, UT rents decreased the most in the past month (-2.2%) followed by North Charleston, SC (-1.5%), energy boomtown Midland, TX (-1.5%), Bay Area tech hub Santa Clara (-1.3%), and Portland (-1.2%). Meanwhile, California and New York saw the most substantial upticks since last month, with Syracuse(2.2%), Moreno Valley, CA (2.1%), Manhattan (1.5%), Torrance, CA (1.4%), and Los Angeles (1.2%) leading the pack.
Apartment prices in more than half of the largest renter hubs dipped since August
65% of mega-hubs have rents below the national average, while 35% have rates above. At the same time,55% of the largest renter hotspots saw apartment rents decrease since August, by as little as -0.1% in Tampa($1,320), Charlotte ($1,243) and Jacksonville ($1,091), and as much as +0.5% in Houston ($1,101).
Indianapolis apartments cost $878 on average in September (after a 0.2% uptick from the prior month), the most affordable for renters living in the nation's largest renting cities. Columbus is the second most affordable, with a $947 monthly rate (up by 0.3% since August). San Antonio ($1,045) offers the third most affordable apartments, where prices have also seen a slim monthly dip of -0.2%.
Meanwhile, Manhattan continues its reign as the priciest renter hub in the nation, with its average rent reaching $4,336 in September (a hefty 1.5% increase compared to the prior month). Los Angeles apartments go for $2,556 per month (up a solid 1.2% since August), while Washington, D.C. apartments ($2,232) trail behind, after a 0.2% uptick since August.
Large cities in the New York area and the Bay Area show contrasting rent trends
Rents decreased in 3 of the nation's 5 priciest large cities since August, and only New York hubs saw increases since last month. While rents in the Bay Area waned, by -0.1% in San Francisco ($3,703) and -1.1% in San Jose ($2,762), the average rents in Manhattan and Brooklyn ($2,956) shot up by 1.5% and 0.5% month-over-month, respectively. Boston ($3,505) rates also went down by -1.1% since August.
The picture looks different in the top 5 most affordable large cities. The average price in Oklahoma City, the cheapest in the category, decreased by a slight -0.1% over the month, reaching $774. However, rates in the rest of these cities all saw upticks, from 0.2% in Indianapolis ($878) to 0.5% in El Paso ($781) and Memphis ($811). The average price in Columbus ($947), the last on the list of cheapest large cities, saw a slight 0.3% increase.
Average apartment rents are most stable in mid-sized cities
In both the priciest and the cheapest mid-sized cities, rents showed more stability than in any other category, fluctuating by less than 1% since last month. Oakland's ($2,953) 0.5% monthly rent increase keeps it at the top of the list of most expensive mid-sized cities for renters. While apartment rents in Long Beach ($2,073) have remained stable, Santa Ana ($1,951) is inching closer to the $2,000 mark. Anaheim ($1,827) follows the two after a 0.6% increase, and Miami ($1,705) closes the ranking.
Wichita, KS apartments ($657) are the cheapest to rent regardless of size category. Meanwhile, Tulsa's $698 average takes second place, while Tucson, AZ ($879), Albuquerque, NM ($898), and Lexington, KY ($916) fill the rest of the podium after their rents declined slightly.
Apartment prices in the most affordable small cities are all in the $700s
Rents decreased slightly in all of the priciest small cities for renters. Apartment prices in the most expensive small city, San Mateo, CA ($3,323), inched downwards by -0.5% in the past month. Runner-up Cambridge's average also decreased by -0.6% since August to $3,224. Apartments in Sunnyvale, CA ($3,023) are -0.9% less expensive compared to the previous month, and apartments in Jersey City by -0.2% ($2,950). Silicon Valley nexus Santa Clara, the fifth most expensive in the category, saw the most significant decline, with its average rent shrinking by -1.3% to $2,931.
The most affordable small cities for renters all posted rates in the $700s. After a -0.8% decrease, the average price in Brownsville, TX, the cheapest town to rent in, reached $721. Though Toledo, OH apartment rents went up by 0.7%, it has the second-lowest rents in the category. Amarillo, TX ($741), comes in third with no changes since the previous month, while Killeen, TX ($751), and Independence, MO ($756) take up the fourth and fifth spots in the top 5 cheapest small cities for renters.
2-bedroom apartments are by far the most popular among renters
RENTCafé research data shows 2-bedroom apartments are the most popular among renters searching for new homes, making up 42% of searches on the website. The second most popular units have one-bedroom floor plans (30%). 3-bedroom apartments (15%) follow in popularity, while renters show the least interest in studios (12%).