DC-area renters paid landlords $14.8B this year

In this WTOP file photo, speed cameras are seen in Adams Morgan neighborhood of Northwest D.C. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

WASHINGTON — Buying a home in the D.C. area is expensive, but so is renting.

D.C.-area renters spent $14.8 billion on housing in 2018, according to apartment listing site HotPads. That’s $502 million, or 3.5 percent, more than in 2017.

Of the region’s 2.2 million households, about 807,000 of them are renters — 15,000 more than a year ago. The median rent in the region rose 1.8 percent this year to $2,180, according to HotPads.

Nationwide, the pace of rental rate increases has been slowing, which has helped more renters looking to buy a home have a greater ability to save for a down payment in recent years.

“However, rent affordability continues to be a challenge, as those who still rent are paying even higher prices now than they were a year ago,” said Joshua Clark, chief economist at HotPads.

“If interest rates continue rising in 2019, more would-be homebuyers may decide to continue renting, which could put additional pressure on rent prices. Fortunately for renters, the housing market is also cooling nationwide, signaling that the entire market may be leveling off and making it easier for renters to keep up with housing expenses,” he said.

Of the 50 largest metros, renters in New York City spent the most on rent this year — $55.6 billion — but rent growth in the New York metropolitan area has also slowed to 1 percent annually.

Orlando and Las Vegas saw the biggest year-over-year increase in rents this year, up 6.7 percent and 6.5 percent respectively. Average rents in Baltimore have risen 1.1 percent this year.

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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