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National Median Apartment Rent Increases By 17.8%

U.S. median apartment rents have spiked by 17.8% since the beginning of 2021, according to the most recent Apartment List National Rent Report, though the increase has been slowing in recent months.

Even at a slower rate of growth, however, rents are still gaining ground more than usual for this time of the year. Month-over-month in November, the national increase was 0.1%, coming at a time of year when median rents typically drop.


The 11-month 17.8% rise vastly outstripped rental increases in recent years. Rent growth during the same periods in the years from 2017 to 2019 averaged 2.6%, Apartment List reports.

During November, more than half of the largest U.S. apartment markets (53 out of 100) saw a drop in median rents. Among the markets in which rents have started their winter slowdown, many are coastal markets that experienced steep rent drops in 2020, only to see fast rebounds in 2021. 

San Francisco experienced a 2.7% drop in rents in November alone, its second monthly drop in a row, and rents fell by more than 1% in San Jose and Oakland, California. Rents also dropped in such markets as Minneapolis, Boston and Seattle. In Seattle, a 2.1% drop in November brought that market's rent to slightly below its pre-pandemic median rate.

Rent growth in six of the 10 markets with the largest rent hikes since March 2020 also experienced a drop in November, Apartment List reported. Only one of those 10 markets, North Las Vegas, saw an increase of more than 1% for the month, and that market has seen pandemic-era rents grow more than any of the other 100 largest U.S. apartment markets, up 38% since March 2020.

The 10 markets with the steepest rent increases in that time have all seen rents climb by 34% or more. Nine of them are within just three metro areas: Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa, Florida.

Occupancy has been a strong driver of apartment rent increases this year. In a separate report, RealPage found that apartment occupancy nationwide is now 97.5%, which is 250 basis points higher than the long-term average over the last three decades.

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