Midwestern apartment markets are now some of the most popular in the country as people place affordability over the hipness associated with one-time draws like Austin, Texas, Seattle and Silicon Valley, according to a report from RentCafe.com.
Kansas City, Mo., was the nation’s most searched apartment market for the second month in a row in June. And up next was Overland Park, a nearby suburb in Kansas, which shot up 78 spots in its ranking to No. 2.
Five of the top 10 most searched cities are in the Midwest, including Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Detroit. Four of the top 10 are in the southeast: Atlanta; Orlando, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C., and Arlington, Va.
Albuquerque, N.M., came in at fifth, marking the third month it has managed to hold a spot in the top five.
Denver is still high on the radar screen of apartment hunters, showing up in the 15th spot, down from No. 6 in May. It was sandwiched between the Bronx and Washington, D.C., in the rankings. Given that there were 150 cities studied, making the top 10% still indicates popularity.
Aurora ranked 38th for its popularity among apartment hunters, while Colorado Springs came in at 52nd.
RentCafe determines popularity based on how many views apartment listings had, how many rental properties were saved to favorites, how many personalized searches were saved, and unit scarcity. It compared how cities fared on those measures versus one year earlier to create a score.
“Kansas City listings on RentCafe.com continue to draw attention from apartment seekers, with views of rentals doubling year-over-year. Renters also saved three times as many personalized searches and added five times as many apartments to their favorites list in June compared to one year ago,” said Alexandra Both, a writer with the website, in comments accompanying the report.
Several markets that were hot prior to the pandemic have lost momentum. Seattle ranked 42nd; San Jose, Calif., ranked 70th; Austin ranked 97th; Boise City, Idaho, ranked 105th, and San Francisco ranked 128th. The bottom five markets for apartment searches were Cape Coral, Fla.; Ontario, Calif.; Laredo, Texas; Fontana, Calif., and Salem, Ore.
Whether the more active searching will translate into a long-term shift in where people move remains to be seen. But the search for affordability seems to be accelerating.
The nation faces a shortage of 3.8 million homes and 600,000 apartments, and the extra amount paid monthly to purchase and own a place versus renting one is near all-time highs, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council.
Despite the advantage renting now offers over owning a place, more than half of renters are “burdened,” meaning they pay 30% or more of their income on monthly rent.
One concern is that developers have concentrated their efforts too heavily on yesterday’s hot markets, and less so on the ones that apartment portals like Rent.com show people have shifted their attention to. But that could help push down rents in the months ahead.
Oversupply could exacerbate the softness in markets like Denver; Phoenix; Austin; Nashville, Tenn.; Raleigh, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; San Jose; San Francisco and Portland, Ore., predicted Caitlin Sugrue Walter, vice president of research at the NMHC during a presentation to the National Association of Real Estate Editors in Las Vegas earlier this month.
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