In what might be another sign of a return to a semblance of normalcy, average rents for Arlington apartments increased in February for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic.
The 0.7-percent month-over-month increase also mirrored the national index, which reported its biggest monthly increase since June 2019.
The survey is conducted by Apartment List.
“The data continue to show significant regional variation, but the days of plummeting rents in pricey coastal markets appear to be coming to an end, as many of these cities experience positive month-over-month growth for the first time since the start of the pandemic,” its analysts said. “At the other end of the spectrum, many of the mid-sized markets that have seen rents grow rapidly through the pandemic are continuing to boom.”
While Arlington may have started to pull out of the rent decline, the community is not out of the woods yet.
Rents in Arlington remain down 13.3 percent from a year before, the sixth largest decline (tied with the neighboring District of Columbia as well as San Jose) among the 100 largest housing markets in the country. The median rent in the latest report for Arlington was $1,688 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,044 for a two-bedroom.
Since the pandemic began, San Francisco has seen the biggest decline in rental prices, dropping 26 percent. Two other cities that have seen a combination of COVID impacts, resulting government lockdowns and civil unrest – New York City and Seattle – remain down more than 20 percent, respectively, although Seattle (like San Francisco) saw a slight uptick from January to February.
Boston remains down 17 percent from a year before, but has been regaining ground for the past two months. Oakland (down 15 percent) has seen its decline flatten out, while Chicago (down 12 percent) and Jersey City (off 11 percent) also are beginning to see prices regain strength.
Nationally, rents fell by 1.2 percent nationally from March through June of 2020 as the shock wave of the pandemic hit, but are just 0.1 percent lower than they were last June.
“Over the past eight months, national rent growth has been largely in line the seasonal trend that we’ve observed in prior years,” noted the Apartment List analysis, written by Chris Salviati, Igor Popov and Rob Warnock
“That said, stability in the national index has been masking significant regional variation below the surface, as some markets had been continuing to watch rents plummet, while others experienced a pandemic-related boost to demand,” they said.
Boise currently ranks tops in the nation for fastest year-over-year growth, and although growth there was fairly flat throughout most of the fall, February brought an increase of 1.8 percent, the fourth largest monthly jump among the 100 largest cities in the U.S. Rents in Boise are now up by 13.5 percent year-over-year.
Other markets that have performed well throughout the past year include Fresno (Calif.), Tucson (Ariz.), Bakersfield (Calif.), Albuquerque (N.M.), Memphis (Tenn.) and one Virginia locale – Chesapeake.
“In most cases, rent growth in hot markets has been fueled by a tightening of supply,” the analysts said. “We have observed local vacancy rates plummet as more renters compete for fewer available apartments. While some of these markets are seeing rent growth start to flatten out a bit, prices are continuing on an upward trajectory.”