Rents are finally starting to fall. Here’s why. – Marketplace

Something’s up in the rental market. And for the first time in a good while, it’s not the prices.

Asking rents dropped by 0.4% nationally from October to November, according to Zillow. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s the biggest single-month decline since Zillow started keeping track seven years ago.

Rent growth tends to slow down this time of year. But Zillow’s data shows asking prices actually declining in November, marking the second monthly slide in a row in a market that’s been on an upward trajectory since 2020.

The trend is playing out in some of the nation’s most unaffordable markets: “Austin, Seattle, San Jose, in New York City,” said Orphe Divounguy, senior economist at Zillow.

A lot of people were staying put as rents kept rising, he said. “A renewal will tend to cost you less than going out and getting a new place.”

There was a huge surge in demand early in the pandemic when people started to work from home and roommates started to break up, said Bill McBride, who tracks housing for his website, Calculated Risk.

“This year, that has slowed dramatically,” he said. “There’s even some evidence of people moving back in together. And so demand has fallen off sharply.”

And there just weren’t enough apartments for everyone who wanted one, said Caitlin Sugrue Walter, vice president of research at the National Multifamily Housing Council.

And developers have been busy building plenty of units, she said. “We’ve seen some markets are actually starting to deliver those units. So in some locations, demand is starting to be met.”

The rental market is still far from meeting all the demand that’s out there, Sugrue Walter said, but appears to be finally turning a corner. 

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