As many Americans have moved from large cities, particularly on the east and west coasts, due to the pandemic and the search for a better quality of life, home prices have surged. People also have been able to relocate because more and more companies allow employees to work from home. Low mortgage rates are another reason sales have risen. However, not all people want to buy a home and have turned to renting instead.
Rent prices from city to city vary widely. Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale made the point as part of its Monthly Rental Report that:
Led by emerging tech markets and secondary cities, U.S. median rent prices reached the highest level seen in more than two years in May, surpassing pre-COVID levels. More than three-quarters of the 50 largest markets also hit this milestone, with rents climbing at an average pace of 9.1% year-over-year – nearly two-times the overall inflation rate of 5%.
While rents in large coastal cities have remained high, they have not risen sharply. In some cases, they actually dropped year over year in May. Rents in Los Angeles fell 0.5% to $2,581, which still makes the city among the most expensive in the country. Rents in San Francisco fell 8.3% to $2,715. By contrast, Memphis is a medium-sized inland city. Rents in Memphis rose 17.2% year over year to $1,092 in May. Rents in Phoenix rose 16.8% to $1,543.
Among the 50 largest markets, one stands out with the lowest median rent by far. The rate per month in Oklahoma City was $834, up by 5.6%. No other city had a figure below $1,000. Even blighted Detroit had a median rent of $1,159, up 6.3%.
Notably, Oklahoma City is one of the smallest metropolitan areas on the list. It ranks 41st on the list of largest MSAs in America, with a population of 1,425,375.