Here's the latest sign that the US housing market is in the early phases of a nation-wide retreat: For the first time in two years, average national monthly rents declined on a QoQ basis - even as the national average rent continued to climb (up 3.2%) on a YoY basis.
Corresponding with the summer slowdown (a period when the rental market is at its slowest), the national average rent decreased for the first time since February 2017, declining by 0.1% - or $1 - from last month to $1,471, according to Rent Cafe's quarterly report on the American market for rental housing.
The decrease might seem insignificant, but combined with the slowest year-over-year hike in the past 13 months - 3.2% ($45) - it suggests a slight wind-down in rent prices against the backdrop of a more volatile financial climate, according to Yardi Matrix.
Apartment rents have seen minor declines since last month in more than half of the cities analyzed by RentCafe, with small and large cities leading the trend (prices dropped 59% in small cities, and 56% in large cities), while 42% of mid-sized cities saw rental rates decline in September.
These cities recorded the biggest declines:
Santa Clara (-1.3%)
These cities saw the biggest upticks:
Moreno Valley (2.1%)
Los Angeles (1.2%)
Interestingly enough, changing the time frame slightly presents an entirely different picture. Rents for apartments in more than half of the largest rental hubs in the country have declined between August and September. This includes 65% of the country's mega hubs (like Manhattan).
Meanwhile, rents decreased in three of the five most expensive large cities in the country since August, during which time only NY hubs recorded an increase. Rents in the Bay Area retreated by -0.1% in San Francisco ($3,703) and -1.1% in San Jose ($2,762) while average rent in Manhattan and Brooklyn ($2,956 for both now) increased by 1.5% and 0.5% on an MoM basis, respectively.
Across the 'small cities' category, cities and areas that were already among the cheapest to live in saw their average rents decline, as did the most expensive small cities, like San Mateo, Calif. which saw its average rent decline slightly by 0.5% between August and September. Cambridge, Mass., another one of the most expensive small cities, also saw its average rent decline by 0.6% during the same period..
Meanwhile, after a 0.8% drop, the average rental price in Brownsville, TX, known to Rent Cafe as the cheapest town to rent in, reached $721.
On another tip, Rent Cafe's data revealed that two-bedroom apartments are the most popular among renters.
As for the survey's methodology, the company's researchers analyze data collected across 260 of the largest cities and greater metropolitan areas in the US, while the data on average rents comes directly from competitively-rented (market-rate) large-scale multifamily properties (mostly apartment buildings with at least 50 units). Though it's different from federal data on the housing market, the study offers some insight into the behavior of people who rent apartments, who are typically younger and without families. All of these data are collected, compiled and analyzed via the Yardi Matrix, a data analysis tool.