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Renters Returning to Big Cities Are Discovering Good Deals

March 16, 2021

Rents continued to decrease in the country’s largest housing markets in February, offering some of the greatest savings in well-known tech hubs that were once known for their sky-high prices. But prices likely have hit bottom and will rise over the coming months, according to realtor.com®’s Monthly Rental Report, released Tuesday.

“For those looking to move or return to the big city, acting now while rents are still at their lowest could mean saving thousands of dollars a year,” realtor.com® notes in its report.

For example, in San Jose, Calif., renters signing a 12-month lease could save nearly $5,000 compared to pre-pandemic prices.

The U.S. median rent of the 50 largest metros was $1,452 in February, up 0.6% but well below its pre-pandemic growth rate of 3.2%. Rent growth has stabilized over the past three months. Rents are likely to return to pre-pandemic growth rates over the coming months, realtor.com® notes.

“Housing markets like San Francisco, Santa Clara, Calif., Boston, and Seattle have seen rents decline by double digits since the start of the pandemic, and rent growth across the nation remains lower than pre-COVID levels,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “However, the downward trend is leveling off and rents may have hit their bottom in many markets. With the COVID-19 vaccination rates improving, returning to work and the city may be on the minds of many. For those looking to capitalize on rock-bottom rents, finding a new unit now could make sense. You'll not only save money, you'll have less competition finding the location that's best for you."

The following are some of the tech hub markets offering the largest savings in rents.

A chart showing rents in tech hub markets and the savings compared to last year's rent prices

A February 2021 chart showing rental data for the 50 largest metropolitan areas