September data confirms a fall cooldown has come to the rental market, as national rent growth dropped to its lowest annual pace (+7.8%) since June 2021, according to the Monthly Rental Report released today. In another sign of more typical seasonal moderation than last year, the U.S. median rental price posted its second month-over-month decline in eight months in September, further slipping from its July peak.

In Metro Phoenix, the overall median rent was $1,638, a slight .2% year-over-year increase. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment actually dropped in Metro Phoenix, falling to $1,776.

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“After more than a year of double-digit yearly rent gains and nearly as many months of record-high rents, it’s especially important to see consistency before we confirm a major shift like the recent rental market cooldown. But September data provides that evidence, as national rents continued to pull back from their latest all-time high registered just two months ago,” said Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “This return of more seasonal norms indicates that rental markets are charting a path back toward a more typical balance between supply and demand, compared to the previous year. We expect rent growth to keep slowing in the months ahead, partly driven by the impact of inflation on renters’ budgets. However, it’s unlikely that rents will return to a more normal pre-COVID pace of growth for at least another year, when available rental inventory starts to reflect the recent uptick in multifamily new construction.”

National rent cooldown continues, offering renters relief from rising prices

September marked the second straight month of consistent moderation in national rents, in terms of both the annual growth rate remaining in single-digit territory and continued month-over-month price declines. These trends are mirroring the earlier shift in for-sale housing, suggesting that the rental market is following similar patterns of more typical seasonal cooling as part of the real estate refresh from the 2021 frenzy. However, like this year’s homebuyers, renters are still facing significantly higher housing costs than in prior years, with national rents for all unit sizes at more than 1.2 times their 2020 levels in September. As a result, rental affordability remains a significant challenge, especially as inflation continues to outpace wage growth.

• For the second month in a row, the U.S. median rental price for 0-2 bedroom units ($1,759) grew at a single-digit year-over-year pace (+7.8%) and dropped on a month-over-month basis, bringing total declines in September over July’s peak to $22.

• Although yearly rent growth moderated to its slowest annual pace since June 2021 (+8.5%), it remained more than two-times faster than the yearly rate in March 2020 (+3.3%) at the onset of COVID. Additionally, national rents were 24.8% higher in September compared to the same month in 2019.

• Rent growth for larger units also cooled in September, with two-bedroom ($1,941) and one-bedroom ($1,647) median rental prices both rising at a single-digit year-over-year pace for the second month in a row, up 6.4% and 7.7% respectively.

• Despite outpacing larger unit rents in September, studio rental prices followed a similar pattern of deceleration in September, dropping $15 from the July peak to a median of $1,483. However, studios were the only unit size to maintain a double-digit annual growth pace in rents, up 10.1% (+$136) from September 2021.

Sun Belt rental markets moderate; big tech city rents keep climbing

Just as September’s national rental trends reflected a shift toward relatively normal patterns, local rental markets showed a return to more typical activity. On the one hand, many Sun Belt metros showed substantial signs of yearly rental growth moderation in September, a marked reversal from the area’s dramatic rent increases during the pandemic. On the other hand, urban rents are making up for lost time from their COVID slowdown as more Americans once again embrace downtown offices and lifestyles. In fact, big tech cities were among the only large markets to post double-digit annual rent gains in September.

• In September, rental prices grew at a double-digit annual pace in just eight large metros, including many of the nation’s major tech cities. In rank order, the biggest rent gains year-over-year were registered in: Chicago (+23.9%), Boston (+19.9%), New York (18.2%), Providence, R.I. (+16.7%), Oklahoma City (+13.8%), Miami (+13.2%), Kansas City, Mo. (+11.2%) and San Jose, Calif. (+10.7%).

• Relative to those eight cities, September rent increases were smaller in more than three-quarters of the biggest markets, including many in the Sun Belt area. For example, rents increased by single-digits year-over-year in Dallas (8.8%), San Diego (8.4%), and Orlando, FL (8.3%), each for the first time in at least 15 months.

• Additionally, four markets posted annual rental price declines in September: Riverside, Calif. (-1.0%), Tampa, Fla. (-0.3%), Las Vegas (-0.2%), and Sacramento, Calif. (-0.1%). In each of these metros, September marked their first yearly drop in rents since the onset of the pandemic.

• At the same time, compared to three years ago, September rental prices were higher in all 50 of the largest metros, and up by double-digits in 48 markets. Even with their recent rental moderation, Sun Belt metros still top the list of biggest rent gains over September 2019 levels: Miami (+51.8%), Tampa (+40.9%) and Memphis, Tenn. (+37.5%).

“®‘s September data highlights the true extent of the rental market boom that has taken place over the past three years, and underscores the prevalence of rental affordability challenges faced by many Americans today. Recent surveys we’ve conducted at Avail also show that higher housing costs are a significant financial strain for many renters and landlords, at a time when inflation is driving up prices across the board,” said Ryan Coon, VP of Rentals at® and Co-Founder of Avail (part of®). “In some good news for renters – and further evidence that the rental cooldown will continue – many surveyed landlords indicate that they are adjusting their pricing strategies to account for tenants’ tighter budgets.”