Rents fall nationally for first time in 9 months

Miami, Los Angeles remain least affordable markets, with NYC close behind: report

(Getty)
(Getty)

Ten bucks is a small amount, but it was big news in the rental market last month.

The median rental price in the U.S. fell by $10 month-over-month in August, the first monthly decline since November, according to a Realtor.com report. It was also the first time since then that the median rent — which came in at $1,771 — didn’t hit a record high.

In other bad news for landlords and good news for tenants, rents were only 9.8 percent higher in August than they were a year earlier. That broke a streak of 13 consecutive months of double-digit annual growth.

Landlords are still in a better position than they were half a year into the pandemic. While rent growth is trailing off, the national median rent was 22.8 percent higher than it was in August 2020.

In a development that helped neither side, however, rental affordability worsened, as inflation outpaced wage growth. Rent accounted for an average of 26.4 percent of paychecks across the country in August, up from 25.7 percent a year ago. Still, the rule of thumb is to spend less than 30 percent of a paycheck on housing, meaning a majority of tenants were paying affordable rents.

That was not true everywhere, though.

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Miami sported the highest share of income going towards rent in August, a hefty 46.5 percent of paychecks, on average. Los Angeles had the second-largest burden, 40.7 percent. New York and Tampa also had shares above 32 percent.

The rental market looks better for tenants in the middle of the country. In Oklahoma City, for instance, the median rent was only $973. The rent-to-income share in the city was 17.5 percent, the lowest mark among the 50 largest metros in the country.

Realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale noted in the report that the numbers are beginning to turn in tenants’ favor.

“If these trends and typical seasonal cooling persist, renters may be better able to keep housing costs to a relatively manageable portion of their budgets in the months ahead,” Hale said.