Not much good can be said about the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted nearly all parts of life. Still, for renters, the pandemic has been quite beneficial — well, assuming they have not lost wages or a job. Rents nationwide have been dropping for nearly a year now, with a 1.2% year-over-year decline in January 2021, according to real estate data site Apartment List.
Of course, rents did not decline evenly nationwide, and the declines are different depending on the property. For example, in the 100 largest counties, the median rent for studio units was down 0.7% year-over-year in December 2020 but up 2.6% for two-bedroom units, according to real estate listing website Realtor.com.
To identify the counties where rents declined the most during the pandemic, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Realtor.com on December 2020 rent prices in the country’s 100 largest counties. Rents declined in 39 of the 100 counties reviewed, with renters paying as much as 25% less in one county compared to a year ago.
Interestingly, rents declined the most in areas where a large share of employees are white-collar workers, many of them tech urban centers. While these workers kept their jobs more often — especially when compared to workers in such industries as entertainment, food, and tourism — they were also among those who could work from home. No longer needing to be close to work, there was an exodus from certain urban centers to more affordable areas or where more space is available.
Rents declined the most in some of the priciest rent markets. Of the 10 counties where rent prices dropped the most, in seven the median rent is over $2,000 monthly — with the median rent over $3,000 in one. Those interested in visiting some of these cities to see if they can find a bargain may not have to quarantine if they present a negative COVID-19 test — here are the states where visitors don’t have to get tested if they get tested for COVID-19.
While the decline in rent prices has been a boon for renters, it has been more challenging for the owners. Similarly, those who have been considering buying rental investment may want to be extra careful about where they choose to invest until conditions stabilize somewhat.