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Austin Rent Prices Dropped A Bit During The Pandemic. Now They’re Racing Back Up.

A sign outside an apartment complex in South Austin says "Now Leasing."
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
Rent prices dropped during the pandemic, but are now rising rapidly.

Austin has returned to her former self: a city where rent prices know no direction but up, up and up.

“It’s like our city has all of a sudden just woken up and is coming back full speed ahead,” Cindi Reed, vice president of sales and development at Apartmentdata.com, told KUT.

In April, the average monthly rent in Austin hit $1,335, according to data from Apartmentdata.com. That represents the highest monthly rent price in nearly two years and a roughly 6% increase in average rent from the start of the year.

It’s a sign that the respite some renters felt last year has faded.

During the pandemic, the price to rent an apartment in the city began dropping for the first time in at least a decade. Rents in Austin bottomed out in November 2020, when the average rent fell to $1,249 a month.

Experts pointed to the city’s declining occupancy rate, which indicates that a larger percentage of rental units are empty. They suggested people hit hardest financially by the pandemic were moving in with family or friends, and those who fared fine were opting to become homeowners.

With more supply, renters had room to negotiate and to hunt for lower prices.

But the rent relief was not felt evenly. Prices dropped most significantly in higher-end apartments, referred to by those in the industry as Class A apartments.

It is rents for these same apartments, which are newer and offer amenities like a gym and a pool, that have rebounded most quickly. In October, the average monthly rent for a luxury apartment dropped to $1,549, the lowest it’s been in nearly two years. But in just six months, average rent prices for these high-end apartments have risen 10%.

Reed said because the cost of buying a home in Austin has soared over the past, some people who could afford to buy have decided to keep renting.

“We have such a deficit in residential homes to buy,” Reed said. “You just can’t find a home to buy. They just can’t build them fast enough nor can they get the materials to build them.”

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