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December Rental Data: Rents Surged by 10.1% in 2021

December Highlights:

  • December marks the sixth month in a row where rent growth has reached double digits for 0-2 bedrooms properties (19.3% Y/Y), pushing the median rent in the 50 largest metros to $1,781.

  • Median rents for two-bedroom units saw the first monthly decline in over a year; rent growth for one-bedroom units plateaued; only studio units saw continuing growth in December.

  • Rent by size: Studio: $1,462, up 18.6% ($230) year-over-year; 1-bed: $1,651, up 19.3% ($267); 2-bed: $2,003, up 19.1% ($320).

End of Year Highlights:

  • In 2021, the average year-over-year growth in median asking rents for 0-2 bedrooms properties was 10.1%, higher than our 2022 forecasted growth (7.1%).

  • The most significant year-over-year rent growth was seen among two-bedroom units, with an average rate of 11.7%. The average growth for one-bedroom units was 10.0%, and the growth rate for studios was 6.1%.

In December, rent growth across the country hit 19.3% year-over-year for 0-2 bedrooms properties, and the median asking rent reached $1,781. It is the sixth consecutive month with double-digit growth and is over six times as fast as the growth rate seen just before the pandemic hit in March 2020. The annual growth was mostly driven by surging rents in spring and summer. The median December asking rent was little changed from its November level ($1,780), showing a sign of more typical winter seasonality.


In December, two-bedroom units saw the first monthly decline in over a year. The median rent slid down from $2,005 in November to a seasonal low of $2,003 in December.


However, the median rent is still 19.1% ($320) higher than last December and 23.9% ($387) higher than in December 2019.


The median price of one-bedroom units plateaued in December ($1,651) compared to its November value ($1,650). However, it is still 19.3% ($267) higher when compared to last December, and 20.0% ($275) more than in December 2019.


Studio rentals is the only category that is seeing continuing monthly growth in December, with rents reaching $1,462 nationwide, up $14 from November and $230 (18.6%) year-over-year. The median monthly rent for studio units has increased by $174 (13.5%) since December 2019. It is at the highest level in our data history. Nationally, studio rents dipped by as much as 5% earlier in 2021 but have rebounded as economic recovery progresses.


At the local level, continuing a trend seen in the November rental report, Miami, FL was the fastest growing metro area in December, with the median rent increasing 49.8% year-over-year. The other metros topping the list of fastest growing rents were Sun Belt areas, including: Tampa, FL; Orlando, FL; Las Vegas, NV; Memphis, TN; San Diego, CA; Jacksonville, FL; Austin, TX; Riverside, CA; and Phoenix, AZ, which all saw rents growing by over 25% compared to last December.


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