RALEIGH – After a year of increasing median monthly rental rates, the latest data from Apartment List shows that median rental rates decreased in Raleigh and in Durham in November after reaching new highs in September and October.

But an analysis of historical data shows that this decrease may have been expected, as rental rates in each city also decreased or remained the same in November 2020 compared to September 2020, as well as in November 2019 compared to September 2019, November 2018 compared to November 2018, and November 2017 compared to September 2017.

The recent price reduction could provide some relief to those who’ve been holding out for lower rates to sign a lease, but rental rates are still close to their all-time high, in the aggregate, according to the Apartment List data.

How much has rent increased? According to Apartment List analyst Lilla Szini, Raleigh’s rental rates have grown by 22% year-over-year, compared to an increase of just 1.5% in the period between November 2019 and November 2020, and rents in Raleigh are up by 21.9% since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. In Durham, rents have grown 22.2% year-over-year, according to the Apartment List rental report for the Bull City.

And rental rates fluctuate based on the type of rental and how many bedrooms it contains.

“We’re starting to see one bedrooms pull back a bit, likely a reaction to just the incredible rent growth we’ve seen in 2021,” said Jeff Andrews, an analyst with Zumper. “Also probably a return to the seasonal cycle of rent, where rent is usually generally down in the winter and up in the summer,” said Andrews.

The data from Zumper, which Andrews shared with WRAL TechWire upon request, shows a divergence in the median monthly rental rates, based on the number of bedrooms an apartment contains.

The median monthly rental rate for a one-bedroom apartment in Raleigh has decreased from its high of $1,240 per month in September to $1,200 per month, according to the most recent rental data from Zumper.

But the monthly rental rate for a two-bedroom apartment in Raleigh has increased, from $1,410 per month in September, to $1,430 per month in December, hitting a new high in the Zumper dataset, which spans the last seven years. Compared to December 2020, the price of a one-bedroom apartment in Raleigh has increased by 14.3% and the price of a two-bedroom apartment has increased by 14.4% year-over-year.

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Rental rates diverged in Durham as well based on the number of bedrooms, with the rental rate for a one-bedroom apartment falling by $100 between September and December, from a prior high of $1,320 per month in September to a rate of $1,220 per month in December.

Meanwhile, the median monthly rental rate for a two-bedroom apartment increased from $1,420 in September to $1,440 in December, the Zumper data shows.  Compared to last year, rental rates for two-bedroom apartments in Durham have increased 15.2%, whereas rental rates for a one-bedroom apartment in Durham has increased 11.93%, according to the Zumper data set.

But renters may see continued price appreciation in their housing costs, according to a new forecast from Realtor.com, which is forecasting a national median rental rate price increase of 7.1% annually for 2022.

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“A great proportion of the population who cannot compete for a new home are likely to continue renting,” the Realtor.com report reads. “In addition, higher home costs due to mortgage rates, which are expected to rise, could accelerate this pattern, raising demand for rental homes.”

The authors of the Realtor.com study also anticipate that many individuals who chose to live with family members in existing housing during the pandemic will attempt to move out on their own, potentially increasing demand and thus also rental prices.

Another factor, according to Realtor.com, is whether the home price appreciation across the Triangle may induce landlords to consider listing properties they currently rent out, potentially reducing the supply of available rental housing and thus also impacting pricing due to availability.

“This move could potentially benefit homebuyers, who may be able to snag these former rentals, but this could reduce the supply of homes for renter households,” the Realtor.com study reads. “Whether these houses flip to become owner-occupied or remain rental homes will depend on investor appetite for rental properties.”

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