[Rent Report] October Rent Prices Stall Across America

Last month we reported that one- and two-bedroom apartments grudgingly moved upward.

In October, however, the market has hit the proverbial wall once again, as national median rents are virtually the same as they were in September. One-bedroom units gained a weak 0.18 percent while two-bedroom units moved up a minuscule 0.08 percent.

1-Bedroom Apartments

We list our monthly top ten gainers and losers in both the one-and two-bedroom categories and if we see any double-digit upward or downward movers, that denotes volatility. In October, our first place one-bedroom winner topped our last place winner by less than 5 percent, while our number one decliner fell only about 2.5 percent more than our last place loser. That tight range tells us that the market is stagnant.

Let’s check the October one-bedroom stats:

Upward Movers

Birmingham, AL gained 6.46 percent to a median $1,046 and Fresno, CA rose 6.78 percent to $1,260. The excitement ends there, however as Evansville, IN, Baton Rouge, LA, Colorado Springs, CO and cousin Boulder, CO moved up only between 3.16 and 3.78 percent. 

Buffalo, NY took seventh place with a boring 2.66 rise to a median $1,005. Tulsa, OK was not far behind, rising 2.5 percent to $698, Sacramento, CA gained $28 or 2.01 percent, and El Paso, TX rose 1.87 percent to $710.

Evansville, IN, at $631, as might be expected, was the most affordable place to live of the cities on our top ten gainers list while Boulder, CO was not surprisingly the priciest locale at $1,699.

October 2020 Rent Report 1-Bedroom Pricing

Downward Movers

Wichita, KS fell 5.56 percent to a low $629 and Athens, GA lost a similar 5.22 percent to settle at a median $871. Norfolk, VA, and Cleveland, OH lost 4.74 and 4.65 percent respectively.

Of note, San Francisco, CA continued its steady decline losing another 4.01 percent to a median $3,042. If this trend continues, we could see San Fran one-bedroom median rents below $3,000 next month.

Richardson, TX fell 3.59 percent while even Anchorage AK made our losers list falling 3.49 percent to a median $941.

Greensboro, NC, Berkeley, CA and Wilmington, NC lost 3.37. 3.36 and 3.12 percent respectively.

On our losers list, San Francisco, despite its recent declines, was still the most expensive place to live at $3,042, and our number one loser, Wichita, KS was also the most affordable at a very comfortable $629.

2-Bedroom Apartments

Our two-bedroom gainers and losers list look remarkably similar this October as the number one city on both lists gained or lost more than five percent, while the last locale on both lists gained or lost a figure in the mid-2 percent range. We don’t want to sound like your parents’ proverbial broken record, but again, these kinds of numbers are just flat.

Check out the following two-bedroom statistics:

Upward Movers

Fresno, CA rose 5.52 percent to $1,472. Buffalo, NY climbed 4.58 percent to $1,234. Cincinnati, OH and Birmingham, AL rose between 3.60 and 3.73 percent.

Reno, NV tacked on $42 as it rose 3.02 percent. Philadelphia, PA rose 2.55 percent and Virginia Beach, VA gained 2.54 percent to $1,456.

Finally, Long Beach, CA, Colorado Springs, CO and Tulsa OK all moved between 2.45 and 2.49 percent.

Long Beach, CA won the prize for the most expensive location at $2,181 while Tulsa, OK was by far the cheapest two-bedroom unit on our gainers list at a supremely affordable $877.

October 2020 Rent Report 2-Bedroom Prices

Downward Movers

Rochester, NY fell $60 to $1,107–a loss of 5.14 percent. New Haven, CT lost 5.11 percent and Richardson, TX fell 5.06 percent to $1,595.

Norfolk, VA was alone in fourth place on our two-bedroom losers list as it dropped 4.07 percent to $1,202.

Oakland, CA joined the California losers with a drop of 3.61 percent and its neighbor to the south, Bakersfield, CA fell $38 or 3.53 percent.

COVID-19 scarred New Your City, NY saw its two-bedroom median rent fall 3.30 percent to $3,834.

Denton, TX lost 3.07 percent to settle at a median $1,137, and San Francisco’s two-bedroom units fell again–this time by 2.91 percent. Lastly, while the Packers are 3-0, Green Bay, WI is tenth on our two-bedroom losers list falling 2.75 percent.

There’s not much to do in Green Bay except watch the Packers, but you can do that cheaply as a two-bedroom unit there will set you back only $849. If you’re a 49ers fan, a San Francisco two-bedroom apartment will cost you substantially more as the median two-bedroom rent there is a stratospheric $4,065.

Rent Report Recap & What’s Next?

COVID-19 has brought economic disaster to many small businesses, but for apartment owners it has meant stagnant rents. While the stock market has fallen from its dance with new highs, oil prices remain well below their recent peak, and the restaurant, bar and general entertainment economy sectors are in a depression.

Rents aren’t going up because landlords are reticent to raise rents because of the pandemic. People still need a place to live and evictions have been dampened by federal and local regulations and laws. Even if tenants aren’t currently paying, landlords may not be able to evict, and therefore there is not any rent to be raised.

While the pandemic still grinds on, there is hope of a vaccine and improved therapies, and if COVID-19 suddenly disappeared, we strongly feel that things would get back to normal in a big hurry. Absent that dream, however, we look for things to remain the same on the apartment rental front, at least through election day.

Be sure to check in next month for our November 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.