Rents Fall Southern California, Seattle, Miami, San Francisco, San Jose, Chicago, Honolulu & Others

Wolf Richter wolfstreet.com, www.amazon.com/author/wolfrichter

But rents surge in 22 other markets by the double-digits.

Southern California – sampled here by Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Ana, and Long Beach – has decidedly entered the list of big and expense rental markets where apartment rents are on the decline. Other decliners from their prior peak rent, in some cases years ago, include San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, New York City, Chicago, Honolulu, and Miami. In terms of two-bedroom asking rents, seven of these cities booked double-digit declines from their prior peak, including -26% in Honolulu and -33% in Chicago.

In Southern California, the median asking rent – half of the advertised asking rents are higher, and half are lower – fell broadly. In Los Angeles, 1-BR rents fell 5.3% from their peak in October 2018 to $2,300; and 2-BR rents ticked down 1.5% from their peak in June 2018. In San Diego, the median 1-BR asking rent ($1,830) fell 6.2% from its peak in December 2018; and the median 2-BR rent ($2,380) fell 5.6% from the peak in October last year.

In Santa Ana (Orange County), the median 1-BR rent ($1,920) plunged 15.6% from the peak in September 2018, and 2-BR rents dropped nearly 10%. In Long Beach 1-BR rents fell 3.7% from the peak in June 2018 and 2-BR rents dropped 9.1%.

San Francisco, in terms of major cities, is the most expensive rental market in the US though there are three zip codes in Manhattan and two in Los Angeles that are more expensive than the most expensive zip code in San Francisco (Rents in the USA: from the Priciest ZIP Codes to the Cheapest).

San Francisco rents had peaked in October 2015 and then fell almost 10% before the “Trump bump” infused new energy into housing in the Bay Area. This caused rents to rise again, with 1-BR rents beating by a hair the Oct. 2018 high, and 2-BR rents getting close, but no cigar. In June this year, this energy petered out.

In October, the median asking rent for 1-BR apartments, at $3,530, fell 2.5% from a year ago and 5.1% from the new record in June 2019 ($3,720), which itself had been just $50 above the old record of October 2015 ($3,670). In other words, in October 2019, the median 1-BR asking rent was 3.8% below where it had been in October 2015.

The median 2-BR asking rent, at $4,670 fell 1.1% from a year ago and was down 6.6% from the record in October 2015.

In San Francisco, as in many cities in the US, there is a lot of supply of newly or recently built rental units – rental apartments and condos for rent – but it’s nearly all high-end. And as landlord are trying to fill these units, they’re pressuring rents from the top down.

Seattle, after years of ballooning rents, is feeling the pressures from the building boom that has thrown a lot of high-end supply on the market. The median asking rent for a 1-BR, at $1,880 is about flat with a year ago and is down 5.5% from the peak in May 2018. The median 2-BR rent fell 8.4% from a year ago to $2,300, which is down 13.2% from the peak in April 2016.

In Chicago, where the housing market is facing the structural challenges of a slowly declining population and plenty of new construction, the median asking rent for 1-BR apartments, at $1,450, has plunged 29.3% from its peak in October 2015; and for 2-BR apartments, at $1,780, it has collapsed by 32.8% from the peak in September 2015.

In Miami, rents have come under pressure from a high-end building boom of condos that are now appearing on the rental market. This high-end condo market in Miami is slithering into serious trouble. The median asking rent for 1-BR apartments, at $1,710 was down 10% from the peak in June 2016; and the 2-BR rent, at $2,220, was down 15.9% from the peak in March 2016.

In Honolulu, rents are still trying to find a bottom, after spiraling lower for over four years. The median asking rent for a 1-BR fell 5.3% from a year ago to $1,610, and 24.4% from the peak in March 2015; the median 2-BR rent fell 1.4% from a year ago to $2,170, and is down 26.4% from the peak in January 2015.

In New York City, asking rents had peaked in March 2016, fell sharply, and then bounced but remain down from their peaks. The median asking rent for 1-BR apartments rose 5% from a year ago, but was still down 11% from March 2016. The 2-BR rent rose 8% year-over-year but was still down 12% from March 2016.

In the table below of the 17 most expensive major rental markets in the US by median asking rents, the shaded areas indicate peak rents and the changes since then. Note that three cities – Boston, Oakland, and Fort Lauderdale – set new highs in October:

The data is collected by Zumper from over 1 million active listings, including third-party listings at Multiple Listings Service (MLS), of apartments-for-rent in apartment buildings, including new construction, but not single-family houses or condos for rent, in the 100 largest markets. Rents do not include incentives, such as “one month free” or “free parking for three months.”

“Asking rent” is the amount the landlord advertises in the listing. It’s a measure of the current market for people who are looking to rent. It is not a measure of the rents that long-time tenants actually pay. “Median” means half the advertised rents are higher, and half are lower. Rooms, efficiency apartments, and apartments with three or more bedrooms are excluded.

The Cities with the biggest percentage rent increases:

Of the most expensive cities in the table above, Oakland had the biggest year-over-year rent increases: 11.1% for 1-BR apartments and 10.3% for 2-BR apartments. In dollar terms, those were the largest increases in the US, amounting to $250 a month for 1-BR rents and $280 a month for 2-BR rents.

Boston also had sharp rent increases and set new records. Other cities in the table above –including Fort Lauderdale, Washington DC, and New York – had sharp increases but the latter two remain down from their peaks years ago.

Below is a table of the 25 rental markets of the 100 major rental markets that in October had the biggest year-over-year percentage increases in median asking rents for 1-BR apartments. Of these 25 markets, 22 experienced double-digit rent increases (if your smartphone clips the sixth column, hold your device in landscape position):

The 25 Cities with Biggest  % Increases in 1-BR Rents
City 1-BR Rent Y/Y % 2-BR Rent Y/Y %
1 Indianapolis, IN $800 15.9% $910 9.6%
2 Chattanooga, TN $900 15.4% $1,030 15.7%
3 Cincinnati, OH $900 15.4% $1,290 15.2%
4 Norfolk, VA $900 15.4% $940 1.1%
5 Gilbert, AZ $1,250 14.7% $1,480 8.0%
6 Rochester, NY $940 14.6% $1,090 11.2%
6 Glendale, AZ $870 14.5% $1,060 12.8%
8 Newark, NJ $1,280 14.3% $1,580 15.3%
9 Detroit, MI $660 13.8% $780 14.7%
10 Cleveland, OH $930 13.4% $1,000 14.9%
11 Memphis, TN $850 13.3% $890 11.3%
12 Milwaukee, WI $1,120 13.1% $1,170 9.3%
13 Lincoln, NE $780 13.0% $950 -2.1%
14 Akron, OH $620 12.7% $700 0.0%
14 Arlington, TX $900 12.5% $1,110 3.7%
16 Reno, NV $1,000 12.4% $1,300 3.2%
17 Columbus, OH $820 12.3% $1,080 0.9%
18 Tallahassee, FL $820 12.3% $900 3.4%
19 Wichita, KS $670 11.7% $760 0.0%
20 Oakland, CA $2,500 11.1% $3,000 10.3%
21 Chesapeake, VA $1,140 10.7% $1,240 3.3%
22 St Louis, MO $840 10.5% $1,110 4.7%
23 Chandler, AZ $1,230 9.8% $1,390 5.3%
24 Portland, OR $1,470 8.9% $1,750 6.7%
25 Virginia Beach, VA $1,110 8.8% $1,230 2.5%

The Cities with the biggest percent rent decreases.

As we have seen in the most expensive rental markets, rents go up and they go down. The table below shows the 26 rental markets among the 100 major rental markets that in October had year-over-year decreases in median asking rents for 1-BR apartments. Four of them had double-digit drops, including Houston (if your smartphone clips the sixth column, hold your device in landscape position):

The Cities with the Largest % Decreases in 1-BR Rents
City 1-BR Rent Y/Y % 2-BR Rent Y/Y %
1 Baltimore, MD $1,110 -15.9% $1,400 -10.8%
2 Santa Ana, CA $1,620 -14.3% $2,040 -8.1%
3 Jacksonville, FL $900 -10.9% $1,060 -3.6%
4 Houston, TX $1,080 -10.0% $1,300 -12.8%
5 Laredo, TX $790 -9.2% $950 -3.1%
6 Minneapolis, MN $1,310 -6.4% $1,790 -8.2%
6 Los Angeles, CA $2,300 -5.3% $3,260 1.2%
8 Honolulu, HI $1,610 -5.3% $2,170 -1.4%
9 Lexington, KY $710 -5.3% $950 0.0%
10 Miami, FL $1,710 -5.0% $2,220 -7.5%
11 Des Moines, IA $780 -4.9% $900 -3.2%
12 Dallas, TX $1,200 -4.8% $1,620 -4.1%
13 Aurora, CO $1,100 -4.3% $1,400 0.0%
14 Baton Rouge, LA $800 -3.6% $890 -4.3%
14 Durham, NC $1,100 -3.5% $1,230 0.0%
16 Atlanta, GA $1,430 -3.4% $1,810 0.0%
17 Chicago, IL $1,450 -3.3% $1,780 -3.8%
18 San Diego, CA $1,830 -3.2% $2,380 -5.6%
19 Orlando, FL $1,240 -3.1% $1,390 -6.1%
20 San Francisco, CA $3,530 -2.5% $4,670 -1.1%
21 San Jose, CA $2,450 -2.4% $2,950 -1.3%
22 Philadelphia, PA $1,500 -2.0% $1,680 0.0%
23 Anaheim, CA $1,660 -1.8% $2,060 -3.7%
24 Madison, WI $1,260 -1.6% $1,330 -11.3%
25 Fresno, CA $950 -1.0% $1,150 3.6%
26 Tampa, FL $1,140 -0.9% $1,340 -0.7%

Yup, of the 100 largest rental markets, 26 had declining rents. But 74 had rising rents or stable rents, and so overall, on average, rents in the US have increased year-over-year. According to Zumper’s National Rent Report, the median asking rent for 1-BR apartments across the US in October rose 2.5% to $1,237 and for for 2-BR apartments, it rose 2.6% to $1,480.

Below is Zumper’s list of the top 100 most expensive major rental markets, in order of 1-BR asking rents in October, with year-over-year percent changes. As you can see at the bottom of the list, median rents in the $700 range exist in the US, in some nice cities too. You can use your browser’s search function to find a city (if your smartphone clips the sixth column, hold your device in landscape position):

City 1-BR Rent Y/Y % 2-BR Rent Y/Y %
1 San Francisco, CA $3,530 -2.5% $4,670 -1.1%
2 New York, NY $3,000 5.3% $3,500 8.0%
3 Boston, MA $2,530 5.4% $2,930 8.5%
4 Oakland, CA $2,500 11.1% $3,000 10.3%
5 San Jose, CA $2,450 -2.4% $2,950 -1.3%
6 Los Angeles, CA $2,300 -5.3% $3,260 1.2%
6 Washington, DC $2,300 6.0% $2,930 8.1%
8 Seattle, WA $1,880 0.5% $2,300 -8.4%
9 San Diego, CA $1,830 -3.2% $2,380 -5.6%
10 Miami, FL $1,710 -5.0% $2,220 -7.5%
11 Anaheim, CA $1,660 -1.8% $2,060 -3.7%
12 Santa Ana, CA $1,620 -14.3% $2,040 -8.1%
13 Honolulu, HI $1,610 -5.3% $2,170 -1.4%
14 Denver, CO $1,600 6.0% $1,990 2.6%
14 Fort Lauderdale, FL $1,600 6.7% $2,200 10.0%
16 Long Beach, CA $1,550 0.0% $2,000 1.5%
17 Philadelphia, PA $1,500 -2.0% $1,680 0.0%
18 Providence, RI $1,480 0.0% $1,700 3.7%
19 Portland, OR $1,470 8.9% $1,750 6.7%
20 Chicago, IL $1,450 -3.3% $1,780 -3.8%
21 Atlanta, GA $1,430 -3.4% $1,810 0.0%
22 Scottsdale, AZ $1,410 7.6% $1,980 1.0%
23 New Orleans, LA $1,400 6.9% $1,550 6.9%
24 Nashville, TN $1,350 1.5% $1,400 0.0%
25 Minneapolis, MN $1,310 -6.4% $1,790 -8.2%
26 Sacramento, CA $1,300 0.0% $1,500 3.4%
27 Newark, NJ $1,280 14.3% $1,580 15.3%
28 Austin, TX $1,260 4.1% $1,570 3.3%
28 Madison, WI $1,260 -1.6% $1,330 -11.3%
30 Gilbert, AZ $1,250 14.7% $1,480 8.0%
31 Orlando, FL $1,240 -3.1% $1,390 -6.1%
32 Chandler, AZ $1,230 9.8% $1,390 5.3%
33 Charlotte, NC $1,220 5.2% $1,300 0.0%
34 Pittsburgh, PA $1,210 3.4% $1,330 -2.9%
35 Dallas, TX $1,200 -4.8% $1,620 -4.1%
36 Plano, TX $1,190 3.5% $1,600 4.6%
37 Buffalo, NY $1,140 8.6% $1,370 7.0%
37 Chesapeake, VA $1,140 10.7% $1,240 3.3%
37 Tampa, FL $1,140 -0.9% $1,340 -0.7%
40 Henderson, NV $1,130 6.6% $1,330 5.6%
41 Irving, TX $1,120 0.9% $1,430 2.9%
41 Milwaukee, WI $1,120 13.1% $1,170 9.3%
43 Baltimore, MD $1,110 -15.9% $1,400 -10.8%
43 Virginia Beach, VA $1,110 8.8% $1,230 2.5%
45 Aurora, CO $1,100 -4.3% $1,400 0.0%
45 Durham, NC $1,100 -3.5% $1,230 0.0%
45 Fort Worth, TX $1,100 5.8% $1,290 1.6%
45 St Petersburg, FL $1,100 5.8% $1,450 -1.4%
49 Salt Lake City, UT $1,090 5.8% $1,340 -7.6%
50 Houston, TX $1,080 -10.0% $1,300 -12.8%
51 Richmond, VA $1,070 0.0% $1,310 4.8%
52 Raleigh, NC $1,020 2.0% $1,190 1.7%
53 Phoenix, AZ $1,010 6.3% $1,250 4.2%
54 Reno, NV $1,000 12.4% $1,300 3.2%
55 Colorado Springs, CO $990 8.8% $1,210 11.0%
56 Boise, ID $980 2.1% $1,200 15.4%
57 Fresno, CA $950 -1.0% $1,150 3.6%
57 Kansas City, MO $950 2.2% $1,070 0.0%
59 Rochester, NY $940 14.6% $1,090 11.2%
60 Cleveland, OH $930 13.4% $1,000 14.9%
60 Las Vegas, NV $930 1.1% $1,190 6.3%
62 Mesa, AZ $910 5.8% $1,180 14.6%
63 Anchorage, AK $900 0.0% $1,150 0.0%
63 Arlington, TX $900 12.5% $1,110 3.7%
63 Chattanooga, TN $900 15.4% $1,030 15.7%
63 Cincinnati, OH $900 15.4% $1,290 15.2%
63 Corpus Christi, TX $900 0.0% $1,100 1.9%
63 Jacksonville, FL $900 -10.9% $1,060 -3.6%
63 Louisville, KY $900 2.3% $970 -4.9%
63 Norfolk, VA $900 15.4% $940 1.1%
71 San Antonio, TX $890 2.3% $1,110 0.9%
71 Syracuse, NY $890 7.2% $1,000 4.2%
73 Glendale, AZ $870 14.5% $1,060 12.8%
74 Memphis, TN $850 13.3% $890 11.3%
75 St Louis, MO $840 10.5% $1,110 4.7%
76 Knoxville, TN $830 6.4% $950 4.4%
76 Winston Salem, NC $830 7.8% $870 3.6%
78 Columbus, OH $820 12.3% $1,080 0.9%
78 Tallahassee, FL $820 12.3% $900 3.4%
80 Baton Rouge, LA $800 -3.6% $890 -4.3%
80 Indianapolis, IN $800 15.9% $910 9.6%
80 Omaha, NE $800 0.0% $1,000 -3.8%
80 Spokane, WA $800 6.7% $1,000 6.4%
84 Laredo, TX $790 -9.2% $950 -3.1%
85 Des Moines, IA $780 -4.9% $900 -3.2%
85 Lincoln, NE $780 13.0% $950 -2.1%
87 Augusta, GA $770 8.5% $850 4.9%
87 Bakersfield, CA $770 8.5% $900 0.0%
89 Oklahoma City, OK $750 5.6% $910 5.8%
90 Greensboro, NC $730 2.8% $850 3.7%
91 Lexington, KY $710 -5.3% $950 0.0%
92 Albuquerque, NM $700 6.1% $830 0.0%
93 Tulsa, OK $680 7.9% $830 6.4%
94 Tucson, AZ $670 4.7% $880 7.3%
94 Wichita, KS $670 11.7% $760 0.0%
96 Detroit, MI $660 13.8% $780 14.7%
97 El Paso, TX $650 1.6% $780 1.3%
98 Shreveport, LA $640 1.6% $700 0.0%
99 Lubbock, TX $630 0.0% $750 -2.6%
100 Akron, OH $620 12.7% $700 0.0%
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