ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — Apartment rent is rising across Southern California with no signs of a slowdown.
Realtor.com's most recent data found that the average median rent in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro is $3,000, a 19% jump year over year. Simultaneously, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro area had the fastest-growing rental market in the nation, with year-over-year rent jumping 28.5% to about $2,500.
Realtor.com officials said coronavirus-related trends such as workers fleeing urban areas in the first year of the pandemic, the need for more space as many shifted to work from home, and affordable rent in the suburbs led to Riverside's rapid rise in rent prices.
Nationwide, rents grew five times faster in 2021 than in 2020, Realtor.com reported.
"On average in 2021, national rents were more than 10% higher than in 2020," said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com, in a statement. "As our December report further illustrates, this average understates the wild ride that the rental market, and many renters, experienced in 2021. Rents started the year roughly flat and gained incredible momentum throughout the year, hitting double-digit yearly pace by summer and continuing to surge through December."
Hale said that despite rents already at a high, he expects it to continue going up and that "rental affordability will increasingly challenge many Americans in 2022."
The rise in rent amid the coronavirus pandemic coincides with the skyrocketing cost of single-family homes, giving renters a sort of double whammy.
According to the Pew Research Center, citing data from the Census Bureau, about 36% of the nation's 122.8 million households are renters.
According to California Budget & Policy Center, an independent think tank, there are about 17 million renters in the state and a quarter of them are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 50% of their income toward rent.
With inflation and the cost of goods rising 7% in 2021, rent going up double digits, price of homes increasing by 20%, mortgage rates increasing but incomes stagnant, renters are in a pickle.
"That picture is getting even worse," said Taylor Marr, deputy chief economist at Redfin, in an interview with Spectrum News. "We see strong demand in the rental market. Rent is rising 14% compared to a year ago, and that is weighing heavily on renters."
A Redfin report analyzing more than 20,000 apartment listings found rent nationwide has increased by 14%. According to Redfin, in Los Angeles and Anaheim, rent has jumped 9% to $3,300. Meanwhile, in Riverside, Redfin's report found the average rent is $2,700.
Marr attributes Los Angeles and Anaheim's rental increase to people moving back to urban areas and landlords playing catching up.
Los Angeles County officials recently extended an eviction moratorium and rent freeze until 2023. But that is only for rent-stabilized units built before 1978.
Marr said he thinks that the sudden rent increase is a short-term phenomenon, and as mortgage rates rise, he expects real estate prices to cool.
"As real estate prices slow down, we expect to see rent and asking rent to conform with that as well," he said.