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The Inland Empire was the best-performing rental market in the country in September, according to Yardi Matrix’s latest National Multifamily Report.

Rents in the region, which encompasses cities such as San Bernardino, Redlands and Ontario, have increased 3.4 percent since February, rising $35 per month on average. By year-end, rents are projected to tick up another 1.1 percent.

Despite its declining job growth numbers — down 6.9 percent year-over-year as of July — the Inland Empire remains a popular destination among Southern California residents seeking a lower cost of living. Occupancy rates improved by three basis points between August 2019 and August 2020.

The proliferation of remote work may have also contributed to stronger gains in the metro’s rental market. Without the need to live within close commuting distance of the office, renters in Los Angeles may have opted to move into lower-priced units in the Inland Empire that offer additional square footage and private outdoor space.

The for-sale market has charted a similar path. In August, a Realtor.com survey pegged Riverside-San Bernardino as an increasingly popular metropolitan area for out-of-market home-buying interest, with demand driven by home shoppers in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Meantime, rents in Los Angeles have fallen 2.3 percent year-over-year as of September. Yardi Matrix anticipates that prices could drop by 4.2 percent before January 1st. Occupancy rates also declined by about 1 percent from August 2019 to August 2020.

“Metros with the highest rents have suffered the most, while less expensive metros have fared better than expected,” reads the report.

It might be consistently hot and the frequent butt of jokes, but the Inland Empire’s rental market is quickly outpacing that of Los Angeles.

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