Despite a seasonal dip from September to October, Arlington’s apartment-rental rates remain the priciest in the region and remain above pre-pandemic levels, according to new data.
The median two-bedroom Arlington rental unit went for $2,523 last month, according to a survey reported Oct. 30 by Apartment List.
While down 1.6 percent from a month before – marking the 21st largest tumble among the 100 urban areas in the survey – and more than twice the national dropoff of 0.7 percent, Arlington’s median rental rate remains up nearly 6 percent from a year before and just under 10 percent from where it stood at the start of COVID in March 2020.
And it remains highest of the Washington-area communities that are part of the Apartment List survey. Among comparable communities, two-bedroom rental rates in the new data were $2,290 in Bethesda; $2,280 in Rockville; $2,140 in Alexandria; and $2,000 in Silver Spring.
The national rental rate of $1,348 in October, while down from a month before, is up 5.7 percent from a year ago.
“These past two months have marked a rapid cooldown in the market, but the timing of that cooldown is consistent with a seasonal trend that was typical in pre-pandemic years,” Apartment List analysts said. “Going forward, it is likely that rents will continue falling in the coming months as we enter the winter slow season for the rental market.”
“Year-over-year growth has decelerated rapidly since the start of the year, but it’s still likely that 2022 will end up being the second fastest year of rent growth since the start of our estimates,” analysts noted.
The cooldown in rent growth is being mirrored by continued easing on the supply side of the market.
“Our vacancy index now stands at 5.5 percent, after a full year of gradual increases from a low of 4.1 percent last fall,” analysts said, but noted that it still remains below pre-pandemic norms.
The recent slowdown has been geographically widespread. Rents decreased in 89 of the nation’s 100 largest urban areas in October, with nine showing increases and two showing no significant change.
Boise, Idaho – one of the first rental markets to explode in the early phases of the pandemic – saw the sharpest rent decline among the nation’s 100 largest cities this month (-3.5%), and there is an ongoing cooldown in Sun Belt markets like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Jacksonville and Riverside (Calif.), which boomed during the early days of the pandemic before cooling off. Pittsburgh, Seattle, Detroit and New York City also are seeing cooldowns.
(Don’t feel too bad for landlords in the Big Apple: While rents took a major tumble at the start of COVID as people got out of town, New York is the only metro area that has experienced double-digit rent growth over the past 12 months.)
On the flip side, communities that have seen the fastest rent growth over the past six months are centered in the Midwest: Columbus, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City and Grand Rapids.
“Markets in the Midwest may now represent some of the last bastions of affordability, and could therefore be drawing new attention,” Apartment List analysts said.
The San Francisco metro experienced the sharpest rent declines in the first year of the pandemic, and has been the slowest market to recover in the time since then. It now looks as if this sluggishness could be set to continue with a seasonal slowdown.
Metro-wide, Bay Area rents fell by 1.1 percent in October and are down by 1.9 percent since August, both figures representing a sharper cooldown than the national average. This dip has brought the San Francisco metro area’s median rent back slightly below its March 2020 level.
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For the recently released Arlington report, see the Website at https://www.apartmentlist.com/va/arlington#rent-report.