Rent Report Roundup: Rent Hikes Leveling Off, At Least

Two of the three major apartment-search engines report median rents here still rising, but by less than they had been, while the third has them falling significantly for the second month in a row.

The major apartment-search sites all reported a softening of rent increases in February, but the trend curves were all over the map. | iStock photo

The major apartment-search sites all reported a softening of rent increases in February, but the trend curves were all over the map. | iStock photo

The three major apartment search engines all released their monthly rent surveys for February this week, and with one notable exception, they report that rents continued to rise from January to February.

The monthly Zumper Rental Price Index still has Philadelphia as the 17th-most-expensive rental market in the country. That makes the area second only to 30th-place Baltimore as the least expensive rental market along the Northeast Corridor. According to the figures Zumper drew from more than 1 million active listings it found nationwide, the median rent for a 1-bedroom Philadelphia apartment is $1,370, up 0.7 percent from last month and 14.2% from one year ago. The figures for a two-bedroom apartment are $1,500, unchanged and up 11.1 percent, respectively. Zumper ranks cities according to median rents for one-bedroom apartments.

Apartment List, which draws data from “the millions of listings on its site,” reported similar median rents — $1,300 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,550 for a two-bedroom. Trend figures, however, are based only on rents for two-bedroom units, and Apartment List found different trend curves: up 0.2 percent from January but down 0.5 percent from one year ago. Here as on Zumper, Philadelphia is the second-cheapest large Northeast market, behind Baltimore, but the 100 cities it surveys include more smaller cities such as Manchester, N.H. (at No. 32, it’s the least-expensive Northeast Corridor city on its list), while omitting mid-sized ones like Providence, R.I. (No. 13 on Zumper), and as a result, Philadelphia ranks as the 23rd-most-expensive city for rentals in the United States.

Meanwhile, on, rents in Philadelphia posted the third-largest monthly drop of the 100 cities it surveys, with the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment falling 6.4 percent from $1,316 to $1,252. Only Pittsburgh, where rents dropped 6.7 percent, and Rochester, N.Y., where they fell 8.8 percent, outranked Philly. The year-over-year change was also a good bit lower than on Zumper but higher than on Apartment List: up 8.3 percent. Among Northeast Corridor cities, Philadelphia’s the fourth-most-expensive on Abodo’s list — it’s cheaper than New York, Boston and Washington, natch, but all the others rank below it, with Providence bringing up the rear on the Corridor itself and Richmond, an extension, below it. Abodo bases its figures on its database of more than 1 million listings across the country; its analysis sets minimum thresholds for city population and number of listings.

At the national level, all three indexes showed rent increases tapering off after a year of significant growth, with rents nationwide even falling on Abodo. Apartment List attributes a lower overall rate of increase in 2016 to the production of a large number of new units this year; locally, this year also saw a significant increase in the supply of new apartments, but as most of those units have been at the upper end of the market, their effect on rents may have been more mixed.

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