Washington’s rental market showed no signs of slowing down in 2014, according to a year-end report from the real-estate company Zillow. In total, tenants paid their landlords $13.4 billion in 2014, or about $300 million more than they did last year, an increase of 7.7 percent.
Zillow’s research pegged the region’s average rent at $1,428 per month in 2014. Over the past year, residential rents in Washington remained nearly flat, increasing by an average of just $2 per month. That translates into about an average annual jump of just $24 for the roughly 782,000 Washington residents who rent their homes. As a metropotlian area, Washington is well outside the norm; average increased by much more in some of the regions Zillow studied.
Rents in Denver rose by $86 per month, San Francisco increased by an eye-gouging $163 per month, and renters in San Jose, California experienced an average hike of a totally dispiriting $197 per month.
But even with Washington’s relative calm, there are no signs of paying rent becoming less painful in the near future, according to Zillow’s chief economist, Stan Humphries.
“Over the past 14 years, rents have grown at twice the pace of income due to weak income growth, burgeoning rental demand, and insufficient growth in the supply of rental housing,” Humphries says in a press release.
That last detail applies somewhat less toward the Washington area, where several jurisidcitions, including DC, Tysons, and Bethesda, continue to put up new buildings at the higher end of the rental market. But we might not want to get too comfortable with our relatively unchanged rents. Renters across the spectrum should brace for higher costs of living in 2015, Humphries says.
“Next year, we expect rents to rise even faster than home values, meaning that another increase in total rent paid similar to that seen this year isn’t out of the question,” he says. “In fact, it’s probable.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that average monthly rents in Washington increased by $59. In an e-mail, a Zillow spokesperson says that figure was published erroneously.
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.