[Rent Report] September Rent Prices Begin to Accelerate Painfully Slow Yearly Increase

Last month we again reported that nationwide median one- and two-bedroom apartment prices continued to exhibit sleepy upward movement.

In September we continue to see that trend as one-bedroom apartments again trudged slowly upward-moving 0.19 percent to a median $1,109 as they crossed the 2 percent increase mark for the year. Two-bedroom units moved grudgingly upward by 0.37 percent to a national median price of $1,358.

1-Bedroom Apartments

Almost every month we have mentioned the tight range in out top ten gainers list, and September’s numbers are the most compressed we have seen all year. From number one to number 10, there was a difference of only 1.32 percent, and there were no double-digit movers.

Let’s look at the stats in more detail:

Upward Movers

New Haven, CT one-bedroom apartments rose 3.58 percent to $1,476. Savannah, GA placed second with a 3.55 percent gain, and Baton Rouge, LA, at a median rent of $907, rose 3.42 percent to take third place.

Soon to be chilly St. Paul, MN gained $44 to settle at $1,364, a 3.33 percent rise. The only other city to rise more than 3 percent was Sacramento, CA as it gained 3.11 percent to $1,391.

Fresno, CA rose 2.61 percent, Indianapolis, IN increased by 2.59 percent to $951, while Oklahoma City, OK clocked in at $807, a 2.54 percent gain. 

Aaron Rodgers’ adopted hometown, Green Bay, WI, saw one-bedroom rents gain 2.31 percent. If you want to see the Packers play, your tickets might cost more than one month’s rent; a one-bedroom apartment there would set you back $664.

Finally, Colorado Springs, CO gained 2.24 percent to settle at $1,189.

The most affordable locale on our top-ten gainers list was Green Bay, WI at the aforementioned price of $664, while the priciest city was new Haven, CT–this month’s winner–at $1,476.

September 2020 Rent Report 1-Bedroom Pricing

Downward Movers

While our top ten gainers list contained no winners with median rents above $1500, our losers list was populated with some expensive cities.

Oakland, CA fell 5.55 percent from $2,576 to $2,433. Norfolk, VA lost 5.42 percent, and Winston-Salem, NC fell 5.24 percent to a median $941.

Of note, San Francisco, CA fell 4.55 percent and a one-bedroom apartment there could be obtained for a median rent of $3,169. In June, this same apartment cost $3,647.

Wichita, KS fell 3.76 percent to an a cheap $666, and Toledo OH slid 3.41 percent. Cambridge, MA fell 3.34 percent to a still formidable $2,604, and College Station, TX lost $25, a 3.3 percent decline. 

Finally, Berkeley, CA dropped 3.05 percent while Nashville, TN lost 2.84 percent.

San Francisco was the most expensive place to reside, at the previously mentioned price of $3,169, and lonely Toledo, Ohio was a great place for the budget-minded as a one-bedroom unit could be rented for a median $567.

2-Bedroom Apartments

The tight range on both our two-bedroom gainers and losers lists was quite evident as the was only a 1.28 percent gap between the number one and number 10 gainers while the top and bottom losers were only separated by 2.09 percent.

Let’s get into it:

Upward Movers

Reno, NV led the gainers with a rise of 3.88 percent to $1,391. Fresno, CA came in second place with a nearly identical 3.87 percent gain and an almost identical rent of $1,395. Next, Cincinnati, OH, Syracuse, NY and Fort Lauderdale all rose between 3.55 and 3.62 percent.

Moderately expensive Long Beach, CA jumped 3.25 percent to a median $2,128, and St. Paul, MN tacked on $51 to settle at $1,680. St Petersburg, FL and Memphis, TN both added 2.72 percent as the Florida city’s rent dwarfed Memphis by more than $500.

Finally, Sacramento, CA rose 2.6 percent to round-out our top ten two-bedroom gainers list.

Memphis was by far the most affordable place to live at $945 while Ft. Lauderdale was the priciest reporting a median rent of $2,190.

September 2020 Rent Report 2-Bedroom Prices

Downward Movers

Rochester, NY was the biggest loser, as it fell 3.87 percent to $1,167. Oakland, CA–another expensive locale–lost a moderate 3.60 percent but remained over $3,000 at $3,348.

Not surprisingly, San Francisco, CA saw its two-bedroom median rent fall again, this time by 3.24 percent to a still astronomical $4,187.

Baton Rouge, LA, Bakersfield, CA and Norfolk, VA fell 2.88, 2.53 and 2.19 percent respectively.

The bottom of our top ten two-bedroom losers list was tightly bunched as Greensboro, NC and Lubbock TX lost between 1.92 and 1.94 percent.

You can get a two-bedroom apartment in Anchorage, AK $21.00 cheaper this month as the city reported a 1.79 percent decline to $1,152.

Finally, Houston, TX lost 1.78 percent to $1,431.

San Francisco was easily the most expensive two-bedroom median unit on our list, and Lubbock, TX was the cheapest at a very affordable $818.

Rent Report Recap & What’s Next?

Last month we said, “until there is a therapeutic treatment or a proven COVID-19 vaccine, we’re predicting a stable rental market at best,” and that is what we saw in September.

There are some hopeful signs that the pandemic is easing in some parts of the country, and the much-anticipated vaccine seems to be moving to fruition. That said, even if the virus disappeared tomorrow, we still see a stable apartment rental market because we just do not foresee things returning to normal for a while.

Add a tumultuous election season, a peculiar run-away-type bull market, and the uncertainty of nationwide civil unrest, a longer and nastier recession could certainly be possible, and that could start to propel apartment rental prices downward.

Be sure to check out next month’s report.


Each month, using millions of Rentable listings across the United States, we calculate the median 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom rent prices by city, state, and nation, and track the month-over-month percent change. To avoid small sample sizes, we restrict the analysis for our reports to cities meeting minimum population and property count thresholds.

For press inquiries, please contact Sam Radbil.