Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

In December, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles dipped below $2,000 for the first time since at least 2016, according to the latest report from apartment rental platform Zumper.

Surging COVID-19 cases, a citywide safer-at-home order, and the onset of the holiday season contributed to the decline in rental prices, which sank to a one-bedroom median of $1,960 last month. The last time LA rents dipped below the $2,000 mark was December 2016, when the typical one-bedroom apartment went for $1,990 per month.

Compared to the same period last year, one-bedroom rents have fallen 13.3 percent, representing a $300 price difference. Although prices plateaued between October and November, they took another hit in December, dropping 2 percent month-over-month.

The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment amounted to $2,700 in December, down 0.7 percent from the previous month and 11.8 percent annually. Renters who leased a two-bedroom apartment in December 2020 would have paid about $360 less than those who did so a year prior.

While Los Angeles has seen its median rents nosedive, nearby San Diego has experienced modest growth with median one-bedroom rents rising 0.6 percent month-over-month and year-over-year. The typical one-bedroom apartment leased for $1,800 in December, while the typical two-bedroom apartment asked $2,400.

“The incredible growth of places like Newark and the resilience of places like San Diego can likely be attributed to renters flocking to these places from nearby, hyper-expensive markets, like New York City and Los Angeles, respectively, in this case,” wrote Zumper data analyst Neil Gerstein.

“If the hyper-expensive markets that renters abandoned in 2020 drop so low that they cease to be hyper-expensive, then it’s reasonable that renters would return to these markets and prices would stabilize.”

Despite the growing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, new cases of the virus have never been higher and Los Angeles County remains the epicenter for the pandemic in the United States. LA rental prices could have further to fall if case rates don’t improve and lockdown restrictions intensify.

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