[Rent Report] August Rent Prices Continue Listless Trend

Each month this year we have been reporting that the nation’s one- and two-bedroom median prices have been basically flat, and our August data reinforces that trend.

Since January 2020, one-bedroom units have increased by 1.93 percent, and two-bedroom apartments have risen only 0.52 percent.

In August, one-bedrooms rose a paltry $3.00 to a median $1,107 while two-bedroom apartments gained $9.00 to settle at $1,353.

Again, similar to what we have frequently reported this year, August one-bedroom increasers and decreasers moved in a tight range; two-bedroom gainers showed more of a spread, but losers were once again closely packed.

1-Bedroom Apartments

Our top ten one-bedroom winners’ list shows a city with a 5.71 percent increase while the tenth-place city rose 2.62 percent. That’s barely a 3 percent differential. Our top loser fell 6.73 percent and the tenth-place locale lost 3.10 percent — again a tight range as only 3.63 percent separated the worst from the first.

Let’s look at details:

Upward Movers

New Haven CT. topped the winners’ list with a 5.71 percent gain to a median $1,425. Baton Rouge, LA gained 4.90 percent and Athens, GA was not far behind with an upward move of 4.65 percent. Ft. Lauderdale, FL moved 4.34 percent to a median $1,827, and while Indianapolis, IN rose 3.69 percent, its $927 August median rent was still a bargain.

St. Louis, MO gained 3.62 percent and St. Paul MN was right behind at $1,320–an increase of 3.61 percent. Hot Savannah, GA tacked on 2.86 percent to $1,042 while Detroit, MI reported a 2.71 percent rise. Finally, Columbus, OH reported an August median rent of $1,059–a gain of 2.62 percent.

Baton Rouge, LA of course was the biggest bargain at $877 while Fort Lauderdale, FL reported the most expensive one-bedroom median unit at $1,827.

Downward Movers

No two-bedroom losers on our national top-ten list broke into a double-digit fall as Oakland, CA led with a 6.73 percent drop to a very pricey $2,576. Charleston, SC was right behind with a 6.67 percent dip and College Station, TX lost 5.72 percent to a very reasonable $758.

El Paso, TX fell 4.77 percent and still stratospheric San Francisco continued its monthly COVID-19 related drop as it lost another 4.60 percent.

To round out our top ten decreasers, Toledo, OH, Salt Lake City, UT, Norfolk, VA, Albuquerque, MN and Anchorage, AK— a city very seldom seen on our compilations—all moved within a tight range from 3.1 to 3.63 percent bottom to top.

As you would expect, San Francisco was the priciest locale at $3,320; conversely, Toledo, OH was the cheapest place to rent a one-bedroom; placing 6th on our losers’ list, Toledo reported a median rent of only $587.

2-Bedroom Apartments

There were a couple of standouts in our top ten two-bedroom winners’ list, but after the first two entries, there was barely a 3 percent difference from bottom to top. The two-bedroom decreasers had a muted movement range from as they lost between 1.61 and 5.50 percent.

Upward Movers

Detroit, MI two-bedroom median rent rocketed 11.18 percent to $955. Fort Lauderdale, FL, like its one-bedroom cousin, reported a healthy 714 percent gain to settle at $2,115. Cleveland, OH came in third with a 6.10 percent median rent rise to $1,547 and Fresno, CA was the last locale to report an increase of 5.0 percent or more.

St. Petersburg, FL rose 4.14 percent as a typical two-bedroom unit costs $1,435 there. St. Louis, MO appeared on our gainers’ list with an increase of 3.52 percent. Norfolk, VA, Savannah, GA and Virginia Beach, VA rose between 3.13 and 3.52 percent. 

Finally, a two-bedroom apartment in Bakersfield, CA moved upward to $1,106–a gain of 3.08 percent.

Even as it took the number one spot, Detroit, MI was the most economical place to reside at $955, and it’s again no surprise that Ft. Lauderdale, FL claimed the most expensive median two-bedroom rent trophy at $2,115.

August 2020 Rent Report 2-Bedroom Prices

Downward Movers

El Paso was quite affordable already, but it lost another 5.50 percent to $791. Oakland, CA fell 5.08 percent and Charleston, SC lost 4.30 percent as a median two-bedroom apartment lists at $1,145.

Continuing it’s COVD-19 influenced fall, San Francisco CA saw its two-bedroom median rent drop another 3.80 percent on top of last month’s 6.66 swoon. Still, a two-bedroom unit in San Francisco now costs well over $4,000.

Birmingham, AL and Albuquerque, NM lost 3.07 band 2.98 percent respectively, And Tallahassee, FL, Baton Rouge, LA, Lubbock, TX and Scottsdale AZ all dropped insignificantly between 1.61 and 1.88 percent.

Our number one two-bedroom loser — El Paso, TX — was the most affordable two-bedroom unit at $791, and even with its recent losses, San Francisco remained the priciest two-bedroom apartment on our losers’ list at $4,327.

Rent Report Recap & What’s Next?

COVID-19 is not being gentle on anyone’s mind as the pandemic some days seems to be again spiraling out of control. A vaccine may be nearer, but there doesn’t yet seem to be a coherent national strategy to deliver it when it does arrive. And whether a vaccine engineered in record time will actually protect anyone from the disease is completely unknown at this point.

Landlords seem happy to just collect rent, and we believe that rent increases have been put on the back burner because as we have mentioned before, some rent is better than no rent at all.

Some big city rents did fall precipitously–like those in san Francisco—because certain groups were beginning to flee cities for the relative safety of rural areas. Now, however, rural areas are no longer disease-free islands, and it doesn’t seem like anyone can go anywhere to outrun the virus.

Sorry for the bleak tone, but until there is a therapeutic treatment or a proven COVID-19 vaccine, we’re predicting a stable rental market at best. With expanded federal unemployment benefits gone–at least for now–and with federal eviction protections expired, we’re worried about a deepening and more long-lasting recession. If that happens, we could see rental market weakness. 

Be sure to check with us next month for our September update.


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.