WASHINGTON — Apartment rents across the country are rising at the fastest pace in almost two years, according to real estate listing firm Zillow, though rents in the Washington area are rising more slowly than rents in many big cities.
The Washington market has been flooded with choices for renters, keeping a lid on how much rents can rise.
Nationwide, the median rent has risen 2.8 percent in the last year.
In the Washington metro area, rents are up 1.5 percent in the last year, largely because there are more apartments on the market and more landlords competing for tenants. The number of apartment units, or inventory, is up 19 percent from a year ago, the largest increase in inventory among the largest metro areas in the country.
The median rent in Washington is still $2,146 a month, the seventh-highest median rent in the country among the 35 largest markets.
The median rent in Baltimore is now $1,742 a month, up 1.3 percent, on a 2.4 percent year-over-year increase in inventory.
The fastest appreciating rental markets are along the West Coast, led by Sacramento, where the median rent is up more than 7 percent from February 2016, the seventh month in a row that Sacramento has topped the list of markets with the fastest growing rent.
Minneapolis and Atlanta are also among the fastest-appreciating rental markets, both with year-over-year increases of about 4.5 percent, according to Zillow.
The highest-priced rental market in the country is San Jose, California, with an average rent of $3,514 a month, up 2 percent from a year earlier.
As home prices rise and for-sale inventory remains tight, more households are opting to rent rather than buy — either by choice or necessity — driving up demand for rental homes.
“Rental appreciation … is once again picking up steam, re-accelerating over the past nine months, said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas.
“It is becoming more and more difficult for renters to become owners, forcing them to rent longer than they otherwise would have.”
Pittsburgh is the most affordable big city for apartment rentals, with a median monthly rent of $1.063, or half what it costs to rent in Washington.