Despite Pandemic Uncertainty, Rents Remain Strong in February

Trade slowdown and employment cuts expected in the coming weeks and months.

The national average rent was $1,468 in February 2020—up 3.2%, or $46, from February 2019, according to data compiled in RENTCafe’s monthly rent report.

February’s year-over-year rent growth matches the pace set in January, but falls just below last year’s 3.5% YOY growth rate. Out of the nation’s largest cities, Manhattan has the most expensive average rent at $4,208 per month, while Wichita, Kan., has the lowest at $655 per month.

While the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are not yet present in official data, Yardi Matrix’s manager of business intelligence, Doug Ressler, anticipates that impact will manifest in the coming weeks.

“The economy still stands to benefit from ultra-slow rates. Home owners are refinancing while renters are seeing normalized rent growth, which reduces their monthly payments and allows them to spend in other areas,” Ressler says. “We haven’t seen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in official data yet, as February employment growth was very strong, jobless claims did not increase, and rent growth continued its steady increase. However, the coming weeks and months will likely come with employment cuts and a slowdown in trade.”

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