Photo: James Bombales

February 2020 feels like it could very well have been a year ago, but apparently we are only three weeks into March. Apartment search platform RENTCafé released its National Rent Report for the month of February, but was quick to point out that “we haven’t seen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in official data yet.” 

Last month, Los Angeles ranked as the second most expensive large city rental market in the country with an average rent of $2,524. The net increase in rent year-over-year was 1.9 percent, which equates to about $48.

Over the past decade, the city has experienced negative net migration, with former Angelenos fleeing to other southwest metropolitan areas like Riverside, CA, Phoenix, AZ, San Diego, CA, and Las Vegas, NV, according to a report released in 2019 by ApartmentList.com. RENTCafé acknowledged that this phenomenon has caused rents in those evolving markets to spike, while prices in Los Angeles have experienced only modest growth.

Across the Los Angeles new construction rental market, prices are trending higher. At Hope + Flower in DTLA, available one-bedroom apartments range from $2,744 to $3,856. On the westside, one-bedroom apartments at &Pico in Santa Monica start from $2,995. The eastside offers some price relief — in Pasadena, you can score a one-bedroom at Thistle for as little as $1,945 per month. 

Nationwide, the average apartment rent was $1,468 in February, up 3.2 percent, or $46, year-over-year. “February employment growth was very strong, jobless claims did not increase and rent growth continued its steady increase,” wrote Doug Ressler, manager of business intelligence at Yardi Matrix, the real estate market intelligence affiliate of RENTCafé that compiled the data for the report. “However, the coming weeks and months will likely come with employment cuts and a slowdown in trade.”

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