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ArlingtonBusinessAfter freefall, local apartment-rental prices again rising

After freefall, local apartment-rental prices again rising

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The Arlington apartment-rental market is regaining lost ground but still has a way to go before being back to its pre-pandemic performance.

Average monthly rents in the county remain down 9.7 percent from a year before, when the first impacts of the pandemic were beginning to be felt across the economy.

Arlington ranks seventh among major urban areas nationally in year-over-year decline, according to new data reported April 27 by Apartment List.

But rents are on the rise; the average rent in the county ($1,771 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,144 for a two-bedroom) was up 2.7 percent in April from a month before, compared to 1.9 percent nationally and 13th highest among the 100 largest urban areas in the nation.

The growth spurt is being replicated in many of the nation’s more expensive areas. Of the 10 most-impacted areas during the pandemic, nine have now seen three months of solid rent growth. (The lone exception is Oakland, whose rent comeback seems stalled at the moment.)

During the worst of the pandemic, year-over-year apartment-rental costs in San Francisco were down 27 percent. That has now improved, and while year-over-year figures are still down 19 percent, “the market has clearly turned a corner,” Apartment List analysts said.

Following San Francisco, the markets with the largest year-over-year downturn were Seattle and New York City (each down 15 percent), Oakland (off 14 percent) and San Jose and the District of Columbia (each off 11 percent). Boston had a similar 10-percent decline as Arlington, with Minneapolis down 7 percent and Chicago off 6 percent.

(Full data can be found at https://www.apartmentlist.com/research/national-rent-data.)

As for rebounds, “nowhere is the trend stronger than in Boston, where prices have increased 12.4 percent since the start of the new year, erasing more than half of the city’s pandemic rent decline,” Apartment List analysts Chris Salvati, Igor Popov and Rob Warnock noted.

While rents in pricier areas have seen rents dip in the pandemic era, more affordable cities have tended to see prices climb. This has led to a certain degree of convergence in rent prices across the country.

One example: Last April, the median two-bedroom rent in San Francisco was $3,146, which was 3.4 times the $929 median for a two-bedroom in Boise, Idaho. As of this April, the two-bedroom median in San Francisco had dropped to $2,496, while in Boise it had grown to $1,144, meaning that rents in San Francisco are now just 2.2 times those in Boise.

In Boise, rents grew by a staggering 5.2 percent over just the past month, the fastest month-over-month growth rate among the nation’s 100 largest cities, and Boise also continues to rank tops for fastest year-over-year growth, which now stands at 22.7 percent.

Nationally, Apartment List’s national rental-cost index increased by 1.9 percent over the past month, the largest monthly increase ever in data going back to the beginning of 2017.

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