Arlington’s median apartment-rental rate remains highest in the metropolitan area and has fully rebounded from dropoffs during the early part of COVID, according to new data.
With a median rental rate of $1,999 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,391 for two bedrooms in May, Arlington’s average rental rose 1.5 percent month-over-month (the 38th highest growth rate among the nation’s 100 largest urban areas) and is now up just under 13 percent year-over-year.
That’s according to Apartment List, which tracks rental rates and reported its newest data on June 1.
Arlington’s year-over-year rent growth leads the state average of 12.8 percent, but trails the national average of 15.3 percent, the firm said.
The median two-bedroom rental stood at $1,300 nationally for the month.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for the Arlington apartment market over the past two years, with rental rates falling at the onset of the pandemic and then rebounding as the world accommodated COVID. Compared to March 2020, rents in Arlington are up by 4 percent.
“Throughout the past year, rent increases have been occurring not just in Arlington, but across the entire metro,” Apartment List’s analysts said. “Of the largest 10 [urban areas] that we have data for in the D.C. metro, all of them have seen prices rise.”
Rockville has recorded the fastest rent growth in the metro, with a year-over-year increase of 15.8 percent The median two-bedroom there costs $2,275, while one-bedrooms go for $1,853.
Year-over-year rents also posted increases in areas of Virginia outside the metro area. For example, rents have grown by 10.3 percent in Norfolk and 9.8 percent in Virginia Beach.
Rents increased this month in 96 of the nation’s 100 largest urban areas as tracked by Apartment List, although 70 of those areas have seen slower rent growth in 2022 so far than they did last year, and some of the hottest Sun Belt markets are finally showing signs of plateauing growth.
The Miami metro has seen the nation’s fastest growth over the past year, nearly doubling the national rate. The Miami metro also ranks No. 6 for rent growth over the past six months, and No. 3 for growth over the entire pandemic since March 2020. Orlando is the only other metro to land in the top 10 across all three of these time horizons.
The Tampa metro has had the fastest rent growth over the course of the pandemic as a whole, with a staggering 41 percent increase. However, growth in Tampa has cooled down in recent months, with a more modest 2.7 percent increase since last October, which is actually slower than the national average.
“Other fast-growing metros have experienced even sharper cooldowns in recent months,” the Apartment List analysts noted. “On the other hand, we’ve also seen some metros heating up in recent months which had not been among the hottest markets in the earlier phases of the pandemic, [including] the San Jose, New Orleans, Louisville, Salt Lake City and Dallas metros.”
At the other end of the spectrum, a number of markets have seen much more modest rent growth since the start of the pandemic.
These are generally a mix of pricey coastal metros, where rents fell sharply in 2020 followed by a rebound last year, and Rust Belt metros, where growth has consistently been sluggish compared to the national average.
In the San Francisco metro area, rents are still 3 percent lower than they were in March 2020, making it the only region where the median rent is still below its pre-pandemic level. The neighboring San Jose metro surpassed its March 2020 rent level this month with a 1.6-percent month-over-month increase, and San Francisco is also likely to catch up soon.
On the supply side, Apartment List’s national vacancy index ticked up slightly again in May, continuing a streak of gradual easing dating back to last fall. The vacancy index now stands at 5 percent, up from a low of 4.1 percent, but remains well below the pre-pandemic norm.
After bottoming out last October, the vacancy index has now gradually ticked back up for seven consecutive months, hitting 5 percent in May. Although this gradual easing in occupancy is a positive signal, the market remains historically tight.
“Although we’re now at the start of the busy season for the rental market, when the bulk of moving activity normally takes place, rapidly rising rents may incentivize many renters to stay put and renew existing leases rather than looking for new ones,” analysts said.
At the same time, the recent spike in mortgage rates has created yet another barrier to a historically difficult homes-for-sale market, potentially sidelining would-be homebuyers and keeping them in the rental market.
“Given these factors, it’s possible that the easing of our vacancy index could level off in the coming months,” analysts noted.
For data on the Arlington and regional market, see the Website at https://www.apartmentlist.com/va/arlington#rent-report. For national data, see the Website at https://www.apartmentlist.com/research/national-rent-data.