Only four of the top 100 markets saw rents decline in 2019. This year, the number has risen to 41. Seattle, San Francisco, and New York are seeing massive drops—as much as 17.8% in average rent, destroying last year’s gains. And the trend isn’t limited to the big urban cores where rents are highest. Overall, rents have decreased 1.4% nationally, though there are some bright spots in affordable midsize markets like Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Are office and retail closures a significant contributor to this trend? Obviously the unemployed face difficulty with rent, but is the shift to online shopping and working from home driving a new wave of relocations among the economic survivors? And which cities will see a net inward migration to help sustain their apartment housing growth, and which will see demand fall even further?