Searching for a sweet pad at a price that fits your budget can be challenging and stressful. How many times have you dashed out of work to check out a Craigslist posting before someone else does — only to find a lease had already been signed?
But if you've been pondering making a move, then now might be a better time than ever to start the apartment hunt. Real estate site Trulia analyzed rental and for-sale listings on its website from May 2016 through April 2017, and found that the national median rent is now at $1,650 per month. That's down for the first time in years – 2.9% below last year, to be exact.
The drop follows five years of steep rent increases nationally; prices were still on the rise as recent as six months ago. The study also found that almost one in 10 rental listings had a rent cut.
Some cities experienced a bigger jump than others in the share of rentals that dropped in price over the past year — particularly in Texas. Below are the top five cities that saw the greatest increase in the percentage of rent listings that fell.
Cities Experiencing the Biggest Change in Share of Rental Price Cuts
1. Dallas (+6.5 percentage points)
2. Austin, Texas (+4.8 percentage points)
3. Houston (+4.2 percentage points)
4. Portland, Oregon (+3.6 percentage points)
5. Jacksonville, Florida (+3.5 percentage points)
While the above five cities saw the most dramatic change over last year's results, they aren’t necessarily the cities with the highest overall percentage of rental listings that fell in price. According to Trulia, those titles belong to the following three cities (all in California).
Cities With the Largest Overall Share of Rental Price Cuts
1. San Jose, California (21.2%)
2. San Francisco (21.3%)
3. Oakland, California (15.2%)
Before you start packing your bags for the West Coast, it’s important to remember that these cities already boast high rent, so a price slash may not necessarily mean cheap rent; the median rent in San Francisco is a steep $4,500, for instance.
Still, it's good news overall for renters. Felipe Chacón, the author of the Trulia report, says the data points to the return of a more stable rental market, rather than the hikes that were the norm of the past — which means landlords may have more incentive to negotiate with you.
Luckily for you, we've got some landlord negotiating tips worth checking out, courtesy of Trulia. And if you're on the fence about whether to keep renting or finally dip your toes into homeownership, check out the times when it's smarter to rent than to buy.