As the year came to a close, rent growth in December mimicked the chilly winter weather. According to Yardi Matrix’s monthly rent survey of 124 markets, last month’s growth continued to cool as average U.S. rents decreased by $4. On a year-over-year basis, rents increased by 4 percent, resulting in a 30-basis-point drop from November, and a 270-basis-point decline from the recent spike of 6.7 percent, recorded in October.
December marks the fourth straight month that rents have declined, amounting to rather meager total decline of $10. According to the report, some of the decline “can be attributed to normal seasonal factors, but it is clear that rents are in a period of deceleration after growing at high levels for the previous two years.” Deceleration, which has been impending during the last year, has affected some metros more significantly than others. Houston faced a -0.5 percent decline year-over-year, while cities like San Francisco (0.4 percent), Boston (1.5 percent), Austin (2.8 percent), Miami and Denver (both 3.3 percent) took less drastic hits. Growth has cooled nationwide, but several metros remain at healthy levels, with examples like Portland (6.2 percent year-over-year), Seattle (6.1 percent), Atlanta (5.6 percent) and Dallas (5.1 percent).
“As we have stressed in recent months,” the report states, “fundamentals remain sound and deceleration is not alarming, given that gains remain well above the long-term 2.3 percent average.” Yardi Matrix’s forecast of 3.9 percent increases in 2017 remains on par with the current level of growth. However, the report acknowledges that this year will be a difficult one to predict, citing the unclear prospect of tax changes, tariffs, regulatory policy and foreign policy. Considering the continuing strength in the job market, with job creation currently at a 2 million-per-year rate, no real change is expected when it comes to apartment absorption.
A growing supply and competition for high occupancy levels suggest continued moderation, but Yardi Matrix expects a spike in growth during the second half of the year as the addition of new supply slows and the impact of economic stimulus is realized.
To read the full report, visit the Yardi Matrix website.