In April, The Washington Post published
an interactive map which revealed how much rent has changed since the
beginning of the pandemic in 1500 searchable U.S. counties. The national average was a record increase of
11.3% in 2021, according to real estate research firm CoStar Group, and
continued double-digit growth in many areas into the first months of 2022.
In Fort Bend County, Texas, rents have increased 17.5% since 2019, for an average of $1451 per month.
While higher than the national average, Florida has been hit
even harder, with Naples, Sarasota and Tampa racking up increases of between 29
percent and 39 percent.
There are several reasons for these increases. Dennis Shea,
executive director of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Center for Housing Policy at
the Bipartisan Policy Center, said “A supply-demand mismatch is making rents
unaffordable. The lowest-income families are being hardest hit by rising rents
and a lack of supply.” Shea explained that a high number of people, especially
younger Americans, are looking for apartments and that this has combined with
supply shortages and construction delays caused by the pandemic to create a
Furthermore, Mr. Shea warns that the shortfall is likely to
get even worse. Rising interest rates are causing would-be homeowners to
postpone their home purchase, leading to even more competition for rentals.
Another way in which the pandemic is impacting rents is
through remote work, according to Jay Lybik, national director of multifamily
analytics at CoStar. “The ability to work from home persuaded a lot of
households to relocate to warmer, less expensive locations. People started
saying, ‘Why am I staying in the Northeast where it’s freezing cold, when I
could move to Tampa or Fort Lauderdale, have my own apartment, and be outside
all the time?’ We saw huge spikes in demand in those markets.”
Remote workers have also migrated outward from expensive
urban neighborhoods to nearby suburbs, causing suburban rents to rise.
Additionally, pandemic-related limits on rent increases have begun to expire,
and some renters are reporting that landlords are factoring in two year’s worth
of increases when renewing leases.
Overall, another six percent increase is forecasted for the
remainder of 2022, which is about twice the amount of pre-pandemic norms.
Despite rising mortgage rates, homeownership is still the
best solution to this dilemma for most families. Once you purchase your home,
your monthly payment is locked in until you decide to refinance it.