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Arlington apartment rents back above pre-pandemic levels

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It took a little while, but average rents for Arlington apartments have now shot past pre-pandemic levels, according to new data.

With median rent prices of $2,013 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,437 for two bedrooms, Arlington is among 92 of the nation’s 100 largest urban communities that has seen rents return to, or exceed, levels of March 2020, when the pandemic hit.

Figures were reported Aug. 31 by Apartment List.

Arlington’s month-over-month appreciation rate was 2.3 percent, ranking the county 44th out of 100 in terms of rental-price growth, and rental prices now stand about 2.4 percent higher than pre-COVID times.


Urban areas had found themselves knocked around significantly by the first stages of the ongoing health crisis, as renters fled due to both health and economic concerns. But most areas are now back, and with a 13.8-percent national year-over-year growth rate (three times the pre-COVID rate), apartments are only getting more pricey.

“As we approach the winter, a seasonal slowdown in the rental market should relieve some of this pressure, but with historically-low apartment-vacancy rates and growing household mobility, a winter cooldown is unlikely to reverse much of the dramatic price growth we’ve measured throughout the year,” noted Apartment List analysts Chris Salviati, Igor Popov, Rob Warnock and Lilla Szini.

(The full monthly report can be found at https://bit.ly/3mVFx1p.)
Among cities that bounced back above pre-COVID levels in August: Boston, Portland (Ore.) and St. Paul (Minn.).

In New York City, which had been among the hardest hit areas due both to the ravages of COVID and the resultant economic lockdowns imposed by government leaders there, the median rental rate of $2,052 in August was above $2,000 for the first time since the pandemic. The 5.8-percent month-over-month increase in Big Apple rents recorded in the survey in August was highest in the nation.

The eight cities still below pre-pandemic rates include four in California – San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Fremont – plus Minneapolis, the District of Columbia, Seattle and Jersey City.

But even San Francisco, which became the poster child for apartment-dwellers fleeing and prices cratering, things are looking up. It needs a boost of just 12 percent in rental rates to make up lost ground and be on par with pre-COVID figures, something that could transpire before the end of the year if not sooner.

While major coastal cities saw price declines in the COVID era, some mid-sized communities across the nation rolled through it with little negative impact on housing demand.

Boise (Idaho) continues to lead the nation, with a 39-percent year-over-year increase in rental prices. Its neighbor-to-the-north, Spokane (Wash.), posted an increase of 35 percent, and coming on strong in recent months has been Tampa, where the average rental rate has increased 30 percent over the past year.

And while winter may possibly bring some respite, prices could continue to spike, given that the nation’s record 131 million households have to live somewhere.

“Some of these households are likely aspiring home-buyers, but they’re facing an historically tight for-sale market,” the Apartment List analysts noted.

“As would-be buyers get priced out of the for-sale market, they continue to rent, likely a driving factor” for higher apartment costs, they said.

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