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Study: Big Cities Post ‘Astounding’ Price Drops in Rentals

January 5, 2021

Many of the nation’s most expensive rental markets saw significant price drops in rental units in 2020, some by nearly $1,000 over the course of the year. While the list of priciest markets in the nation remained fairly consistent over the last year, the median price for a one-bedroom apartment in these cities changed drastically, according to a new national rent report released by Zumper, a nationwide rental site.

“The price difference between the lists is astounding and speaks to just how far prices have dropped in these expensive markets,” Zumper notes.

The most expensive rental markets in January 2020, according to Zumper, were:

Rental levels in 2020


Now, survey results show lower prices along with some changes in metros:
Rental levels in 2021


“Hyper-expensive markets like San Francisco and New York City could be overtaken by lightning fast-growing cities like Newark, N.J., or expensive cities that have resisted the decline like San Diego,” Zumper says. “But there are also reasons to expect that to not happen.” For example, if expensive markets that renters left in 2020, during the initial stages of the pandemic, continue to adjust lower, “it’s reasonable that renters would return to these markets and prices would stabilize,” Zumper says. The growth of Newark is due to migration from New York City, likely from many people trying to find greater affordability. But if apartments in New York City and Newark were near the same price, which city would renters choose? “Questions like these will likely determine what the top 10 most expensive markets will look like in 2021,” Zumper says.

Nationwide, the median rent for a one-bedroom unit is $1,224, up just 0.6% from this time last year.

Zumper National Rent Report: January 2021,” Zumper (Jan. 4, 2021)