DC metro is among biggest rent-drop cities. But now rents are rising.

After falling an average of 1.8% per month from April through December 2020, average apartment rents in the D.C. metro area have risen in each of the past two months.

The increase has not been significant —  up 0.9% in February — and D.C. area rents are still significantly lower than a year ago.

“D.C. continues to be one of the markets with the most significant year-over-year rent drops in the entire country,” said Rob Warnock at ApartmentList.com. “We may be at the bottom of the drop. We may see prices start to rebound. But D.C. is still notably cheaper than it was a year ago.”

The average apartment rent in D.C. is down 13.3% from a year ago, the seventh-sharpest decline among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. Average rents in Arlington County are down 13%.

Among those 100 metros, the average year-over-year decline in apartment rents is 0.8%.

Despite the big drop in rents in Arlington, it remains the most expensive apartment market in the D.C. area, with an average two-bedroom rent of $2,040 per month.

The largest year-over-year drops in rent have been in the most expensive rental markets, down 26.1% in San Francisco, down 20.8% in New York and down 19.5% in Seattle.

Many landlords in the D.C. area are still luring new renters with concessions, such as a free month of rent or reduced parking. At least, for now.

“Given that rents are still low, and vacancies are still high, those concessions are going to stay there for the time being,” Warnock said. “But as we move through the spring, the market heats back up and people start renting in places like D.C. again, it could be the case that if you didn’t lock in one of those concessions now, you might have lost that opportunity.”

ApartmentList notes that many renters who moved out or downsized because of a pandemic hardship last year, pushing vacancies up, were expected to be temporary relocations.

Their report on rental trends across the country is posted online.

Apartment rents are down in most parts of the D.C. metro, but not all. Below is a list of average apartment rents around the region and their annual change, courtesy of ApartmentList.com.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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