Rent Prices Shift as 2020 Winds Down

By Kelly Leighton | Dec. 1, 2020 | 3 min. read

Trends among apartment rent prices are shifting as 2020 comes to a close.

A recent Apartment Guide study found that studio apartments are the least expensive unit right now, which is a change from earlier reports, which priced one-bedroom apartments as the cheapest. Three-bedroom units continue to see price increases compared to this time last year in the top 50 U.S. markets. In those same areas, studios, one-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom apartments have all seen a decrease in rental prices year-to-year. In the Northeast, studio and one-bedroom apartments are charging less rent, while two-bedrooms are getting an increase.

“In Pennsylvania, studio and one-bedroom prices currently sit below the national average, while two-bedroom and three-bedroom units sit above the national average. A notable shift has occurred with three-bedroom units in the state, which were below the national average in late 2019, but leaped ahead of the national average by March 2020. As a result of these numbers, we believe that the apparent rising interest in larger units that we’re noticing nationwide may hold true in Pennsylvania as well,” said Kelli Francis, senior content strategist for Apartment Guide.

With homes on the market seeing higher prices and bidding wars, it may come as a surprise that most rents have gone down. However, due to the pandemic, more younger people have given up their housing in cities and moved home with their families.

“Prices are falling in some big cities, potentially reflecting a shift to single-family homes and/or a shift out of cities,” added Francis.

Philadelphia was named one of the top 10 cities with biggest rent-increases, with studio rent prices increasing 12.1% year-to-year.

“At the city level in Pennsylvania, both one-bedroom and two-bedroom prices are rising in Allentown and Harrisburg. Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh reflect some variation. In Philadelphia, studio prices are up 12% year-over-year and the city makes the country’s top 10 for increases in studio prices. However, one-bedroom units are down 1%, two-bedroom units are down 7% and three-bedroom units are down 6% year-over-year,” said Francis. “In Pittsburgh, studio prices have been falling, reflecting a 4% drop since August 2020 and a 10% drop since December 2019. One-bedroom prices are down 2% year-over-year and three-bedroom prices are down 17% year-over-year. Two-bedrooms are the only unit type to experience an increase in Pittsburgh, up 13% year-over-year. These numbers reflect an emphasis on either studio or two-bedroom units in bigger cities and potentially more interest in smaller cities overall. We believe it’s possible that single renters in big cities may be looking to downsize or take on roommates, and that more people may be considering life outside of big cities.”

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