After two years of incredible rises, rents in Austin start to fall
To illustrate the price of rent in Austin is to draw a steep, steep hill.
But for the past few months, that hill has leveled off as landlords have dropped rent prices. April rent numbers marked the first annual decrease in average rent since early 2021, according to data from ApartmentData.com.
Last month, the average price of rent for an apartment any size was $1,678 a month — $8 less than it was the same time last year. The trend continued this month, with landlords charging an average of $34 less in monthly rent than in May 2022.
While this represents just a 0.5% and 2% decrease in rent prices respectively, it’s a notable drop; annual rents have not decreased for the past two years, and at one point rents were increasing by 25% year over year. (Rent prices are best analyzed on a yearly basis since most renters sign 12-month leases.)
Employees of ApartmentData.com survey landlords each month to see what they’re charging for new leases. The real estate data firm solicits information largely from landlords who own 50 or more apartments — meaning that the rents charged by small-time landlords are not typically represented in the data.
Bruce McClenny, director of ApartmentData.com, said he attributes the drop in prices to a flood of new construction of apartment buildings. Across the Austin metro area, there are roughly 50,000 apartments under construction, a number bigger than any McClenny has seen.
“We've been covering Austin since around 2003,” McClenny said. “And I would easily say that 50,000 units under construction is by far the most ever.”
At the same time, a larger portion of apartments are sitting vacant. This month, roughly 11% of the apartments owned by landlords surveyed by the firm were empty. This time last year that number was closer to 8%.
McClenny said he believes renters may be making decisions to cut down on housing costs as prices rise on everyday items such as food and gas.
“Renters are behaving like it's a recession and possibly moving in with relatives, doubling up or moving further out,” he said.
The result? Price drops. Or, in some cases, much smaller increases.
Lauren Venticinque rents a three-bedroom house with her boyfriend in Austin’s North Loop neighborhood. In 2021 as rents were increasing the couple signed an 18-month lease for $2,400 a month.
As the lease’s expiration date inched closer, Venticinque said she and her boyfriend began talking about moving out, anticipating a rent increase above what they could afford. Venticinque said she began scouring Zillow, looking at rental homes nearby. One she saw had been listed for $1,000 more a month than she was currently paying.
“With every month that passed, I'd be like, ‘We only have X amount of months to live here because we're not going to be able to re-sign the lease because rents are going to go up so much,” she said.
So when the lease renewal finally arrived and Venticinque’s landlord requested $2,600 a month — a $200 a month increase — she said she felt relieved. It was an increase she and her boyfriend could manage, and it meant they didn’t have to move in search of cheaper rent.
“I love this house and it's been amazing to be able to not have to move with every lease,” Venticinque said.