Residential Rent Growth Continues in U.S, but Recovery is Unbalanced

Residential Rent Growth Continues in U.S, but Recovery is Unbalanced

Residential News » Irvine Edition | By WPJ Staff | April 21, 2021 8:00 AM ET

Based on CoreLogic's latest Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI), February 2021 data shows a national rent increase of 3.9% year over year, up from a 3% year-over-year increase in February 2020.

As families continue to seek out more space and face housing affordability concerns, high demand and low rental supply inventory has led to rising rental prices across almost every price tier. After growing about 3% annually since mid-2018, rent growth slowed in the spring of 2020, but bounced back in three of the four tiers to exceed the pre-pandemic growth rate beginning in October 2020. However, rent price growth of the low-price tier continues to lag behind that of high-priced rentals, reflecting the uneven U.S. job recovery, sometimes called a K-shaped recovery, seen throughout the country. Rent growth in the low-price tier remains below pre-pandemic levels as the recession continues to disproportionately affect lower-wage workers.

"While single-family rent increases overall were above the pre-pandemic rate in February, renters are not experiencing recovery the same across the board," said Molly Boesel, principal economist at CoreLogic. "As vaccine eligibility opens up more widely and businesses continue to open their doors in response, we may see a balance of recovery."

Among the 20 U.S. metro areas, Tucson, Arizona, had the highest year-over-year increase in single-family rents in February 2021 at 11.2%. Phoenix had the second-highest rent price growth with a gain of 11.1%, followed by Atlanta at 8.1%. Conversely, Boston had an annual decline of 8.9% in rent prices and has experienced the largest decrease in all analyzed metros' rent prices for seven consecutive months.

Chicago also posted an annual rent decrease of 2.9% in February 2021 compared to a year ago. Rent prices of detached rentals in Chicago increased by 4.2% in February 2021, while attached rentals decreased by 4.8%. This demonstrates the ongoing demand and prioritization among families to gain more living space.

To gain a detailed view of single-family rental prices, CoreLogic examines four tiers of rental prices. National single-family rent growth across the four tiers, and the year-over-year changes, were as follows:

  • Lower-priced (75% or less than the regional median): 2.9%, down from 3.7% in February 2020
  • Lower-middle priced (75% to 100% of the regional median): 3.4%, up from 3.1% in February 2020
  • Higher-middle priced (100% to 125% of the regional median): 3.9%, up from 2.8% in February 2020
  • Higher-priced (125% or more than the regional median): 4.4%, up from 2.7% in February 2020

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