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Rent prices show biggest one-month growth since the start of the pandemic

February 24, 2021, 6:30 PM UTC

Rent prices in some parts of the country fell as much as 20% in 2020, but the bounce back, it appears, is underway.

Apartment rental app Zumper, in its March rent report, says the price of a one-bedroom unit in February jumped 1.1%, and the average two-bedroom unit saw a 0.9% increase. That’s the biggest single-month increase in rent prices since the start of the pandemic.

COVID-19 brought about big shifts in the rental space, with several states showing substantial declines in rent prices. New York was down 20.2% for one-bedroom units to an average of $2,150, and Maine prices dropped 17% to $965. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia also saw median rent prices go down.

Two months into 2021, though, it appears the bottom has been reached. Prices in New York City, San Jose, and Boston are all increasing for the first time since the first quarter of 2020, as the trends shift from fleeing big cities to moving back in.

The increase mirrors the bump in interest rates that has slowed down demand for refinances and new home purchases. However, it’s worth noting that the year-over-year rate comparisons in major cities still show there are some bargains to be found.

In San Francisco, for example, the average one-bedroom is 24.3% cheaper than it was a year ago (a two-bedroom is 23.6% cheaper). New York City one-bedrooms are still 18% less expensive than at this time in 2020. Boston is down 18%, and rentals in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are both nearly 16% less expensive than they were a year ago.

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