The annual growth rate of rents remains high in March


Apartment List’s latest rent report shows the national average rent growth in March was 0.8% month-over-month and 17.1% year-over-year. The monthly rate is up slightly but the annual rate is down slightly from those reported last month.

The story of rent growth

In the three “normal” years, i.e. those before 2020, for which Apartment List has month-over-month rent increase data for March, rents increased by 0 .3 to 0.9% during the month. In March 2020, when the pandemic was just emerging, rents had increased by a fairly typical 0.4%. In contrast, in 2021, rents jumped 1.3% in March. For 2022, month-over-month rent growth in March of 0.8% is lower than 2020 and also lower than 2018. However, the increase in rents since the start of the growth of 1.8% in 2022 greatly exceeds the 0.8% observed in the first three months of 2018, while it is lower than the growth of 2.4% observed in the first three months of 2021.

The first graph, below, shows the history of the national average rent from the apartment listing dataset. The data is plotted over a 12 month period so that the seasonal pattern of rent growth is visible.

rental growth history

The following graph shows the same data taken as the month-over-month change in the national average rent since 2017. While 2022 started with the highest month-over-month rent growth rate for every January of the data set, the relative pace of rent growth has declined. February had the second highest rent growth rate and March the third highest rent growth rate in the data set. Rent growth in 2022 could turn out to be closer to that of a “normal” year than that of the extraordinary 2021.

month-over-month rent growth

Apartment List reported that vacancy rates continued their upward trajectory in March, reaching 4.6%. This is up from the low of 3.8% recorded last summer. While the vacancy rate is still well below the 6% rate seen before the pandemic, the fact that it is steadily increasing is likely to cause the rate of rent growth in the coming months to be below the pace set. last year when the vacancy rate was falling.

Leaders and Trailers

Apartment List provides the underlying data they collected while compiling their report and this data was used to create the tables below. The tables examine the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas by population as defined by the US Census Bureau and identify the top and bottom 10 metros for year-over-year rent growth. The tables provide the average monthly rent in the metro, the annual percentage change in rent (YoY Metro) as well as the percentage change from the previous month’s rent level (MoM Metro). They also list the percentage change in rent for the metro area from the rent level in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit (February 20).

The first table shows the 10 metros with the highest annual percentage increases in rents. Only one of these metros saw its rent drop month on month in March. Only one other of the 50 largest cities saw its rents drop month-on-month in March.

Subway Subway rental Annual Metro Metro MoM February 20
Miami $2,046 30.4 1.0 33.0
Tampa $1,739 29.4 0.9 37.8
Orlando $1,741 27.9 1.3 26.9
Phoenix $1,737 25.6 0.5 34.2
Vegas $1,650 24.1 0.3 33.0
Jacksonville $1,517 23.1 -0.3 30.0
Austin $1,710 22.8 1.0 22.1
Nashville $1,516 21.7 1.1 21.3
Raleigh $1,518 21.4 1.1 25.4
Salt Lake City $1,571 21.2 0.9 26.1

The following table shows the 10 metros with the lowest annual rent growth rates. None of these metros saw their rent drop on a month-to-month basis in March.

Among the 50 largest metropolises, only San Francisco (-3.5%) and San Jose (-1.9%) have average rent levels still lower than in February 2020.

Subway Subway rental Annual Metro Metro MoM February 20
Minneapolis $1,311 7.1 1.1 2.8
Detroit $1,164 9.3 0.5 15.9
Pittsburgh $1,008 9.3 0.4 8.9
Kansas City $1,189 9.6 0.6 12.2
Saint Louis $1,120 10.1 0.5 12.9
Cleveland $1,011 10.3 0.6 15.0
Milwaukee $1,102 10.6 0.9 13.5
Hartford $1,525 11.2 1.5 17.1
Louisville $1,022 11.5 1.0 11.9
Columbus $1,118 11.5 0.5 15.7

The full apartment listing report covers many other metros and has some interesting graphs showing how rents have changed over time. It also offers readers the option to download their datasets. It can be found here.


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