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Signs of Resilience: How the rental market might be bouncing back

Signs of Resilience: How the rental market might be bouncing back

As we step into spring, the rental market is exhibiting signs of resilience after a prolonged period of uncertainty. According to Apartment List's April report, national rent prices experienced a 0.6% increase in March, marking the second consecutive monthly rise following six months of declines. This uptick signals a shift in the rental landscape, hinting at a departure from the sluggishness observed during the slow season.

The median nationwide rent now stands at $1,388, reflecting a notable increase of over $200 per month compared to just a few years ago. While this surge may seem steep, it aligns with the typical seasonal trajectory of the rental market. As the report highlights, moving activity gradually picks up post-holiday season, setting the stage for an uptick in rental prices.

One significant factor contributing to this shift is the influx of new apartment completions. The national vacancy index, as tracked by Apartment List, has been steadily rising and currently sits at 6.7%. This trend is expected to persist, with a surge in new apartment constructions anticipated for the foreseeable future. While this may lead to an abundance of vacant units, it also offers renters a wider array of choices and potentially more negotiating power.

Historically, rent growth follows a seasonal pattern, with spring and early summer typically witnessing price increases. The recent momentum in rent prices underscores the rental market's resilience as it emerges from the slow season. The acceleration in positive rent growth, coupled with consecutive monthly increases, suggests a promising return to what we might define as a sense of normalcy.

The slowdown in the rental market is reflected in broader economic indicators, particularly in inflation numbers. The "shelter" component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has been on a downward trajectory, indicating a cooling off in rental inflation. This trend is expected to contribute to easing overall inflation levels, providing relief to consumers amidst economic uncertainties.

Despite these positive developments, regional variations persist, with rent prices fluctuating across different cities. However, historical seasonal patterns suggest that rents are likely to continue trending upwards in the coming months. Nonetheless, this growth is expected to be tempered by the robust construction pipeline, which promises to deliver a steady stream of new rental units throughout 2024.

While the recent uptick in rent prices signals a departure from the slow season, it also underscores the resilience of the rental market in the face of challenges. As we navigate the changing tides of the rental landscape, renters and landlords alike can leverage these insights to make informed decisions and adapt to emerging trends.