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Rent Prices Are Finally Falling: But These 20 Cities Missed The Memo For Single-Family Homes

February 2, 2023

In-demand single-family homes drove 2022’s rental-price roller coaster. Prices are finally settling down, but just in case you’re planning a move, new data from Dwellsy pinpoints the 20 American cities where it’s most expensive to rent a house.

Picture it: You’re lounging in a cozy chair in your (rented) living room, watching snow drift gently down outside. If you want to get crazy, add a cup of hot cocoa, a fuzzy blanket and a few scented candles. If this winter fantasy is appealing, data-cruncher Jonas Bordo of Dwellsy has good news: Moving into a single-family home rental (SFR) just got a bit less pricey—so go ahead and spring for the fancy marshmallows.

Now, here’s the caveat you knew was coming: If you want to rent a sunny beach house, forget he said anything. You’ll still pay plenty for the privilege of not freezing your butt off.

“From November to December 2022, asking rent for a three-bedroom SFR went down $30, or 1.7 percent,” says Bordo, CEO and Co-Founder of Dwellsy. “This is extremely welcome news for renters, who saw prices for that property type rise 8 percent or a total of $128, from December 2021 to December 2022. That said, your rent might still cost quite a bit depending on your address—especially if you’re hoping to find a rental home in a warm, sunny spot.”

Bordo believes that providing accurate and timely rental data is a crucial service for renters, landlords, cities and organizations connected to the rental industry. To that end, Dwellsy regularly mines its 13+ million residential rental listings for statistics and data. Because the rental platform allows landlords to post listings free of charge, it has a pool of data that’s more diverse—and more representative of the true rental landscape—than that of pay-to-play listing services. Each month, Dwellsy breaks down this data regionally across 250 U.S. markets.

“Without current data, it’s difficult for renters to accurately gauge developing trends, determine affordability in their area and plan for the future,” says Bordo. “In order to increase the specificity of what we’re pricing and reduce the risk of noise in the underlying data, Dwellsy has recently updated our methodology for analyzing rent data. In compiling this list of most expensive cities for single-family home rentals, we’ve focused on three-bedroom homes because they are by far the most common rental home type.”

For a more detailed look at Dwellsy’s rent price analysis methodology, see this article:

Top Ten Most Expensive Big Cities for Single-Family Homes: 1. Los Angeles, California $3850, 2. San Francisco, California $3700, 3. San Jose California $3600, 4. Honolulu, Hawaii $3500, 5. San Diego, California $3450 6. Miami, Florida $3200, 7. Boston, Massachusetts $3200, 8. Riverside - San Bernardino, California $2600, 9. Seattle, Oregon $2596 and 10. Denver, Colorado $2540.

A glance at this list shows that a snowy winter is not in the forecast for the majority of cities with the most expensive SFR rent. Los Angeles claimed the top spot with a median December asking rent of $3,850 and Bay Area twins San Francisco and San José took the second and third spots with rents of $3,700 and $3,600, respectively.

“Renters in Miami, Honolulu and Boston might still be in mourning for their 2021 budgets, because prices in each of these cities have increased over 10 percent since December 2021,” says Bordo. “On the other hand, asking rents in San José, Riverside-San Bernardino and Seattle have increased by 3 percent or less—well below the national average of 8 percent.”

Top Ten Most Expensive Small Cities for Single-Family Homes: 1. Naples-Marco Island, Florida $5000, 2. Salinas, California $3500, 3. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, California $3398, 4. San Luis Obispo, California $3200 5. Santa Rosa, California $3000, 6. Santa Barbara, California $2938, 7. Vallejo-Fairfield, California $2750 8. North Port-Bradenton, Florida $2650, 9. Hilton Head, South Carolina $2638 and 10. Boulder, Colorado $2595.

Thanks in part to the loosening of Pandemic restrictions and the rise of remote work, many renters chose to move to smaller cities with sought-after amenities and attractions in 2022. After all, if you can work from anywhere, why not do it by the beach? Assuming, of course, that you can afford to pay for that coveted ocean view.

“Naples-Marco Island, Florida, gets the prize for ‘most expensive rental city’ across all property types and locations,” shares Bordo. “Median asking rent in December was $5,000 for a three-bedroom home. This is significantly higher than asking rent in second-place Salinas, California, which came in at $3,500.

“Hilton Head, South Carolina, also stands out for having this group’s highest overall rent growth in 2022: 23.4 percent,” he adds.

“No matter where you live, it looks like more stable rent prices will continue into 2023,” Bordo concludes. “Thanks to the Fed’s fight against inflation and an increased supply of new rentals entering the market, I expect moderate pricing to continue as the year progresses.”

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