In the first few months of the pandemic in 2020, renters whose income was impacted fled their apartments in droves, some downsizing to cheaper units, some doubling or tripling up with roommates, and many moving in with families. That drove vacancy rates higher, and rental rates sharply lower as a result.
With financial situations improving for renters that had been impacted by the pandemic, the exact opposite is happening in the D.C.-area rental market now.
“The number of households now is actually higher than the pre-pandemic peak, so that contraction that we saw last year did reverse itself quite quickly,” said Chris Salviati, housing economist at rental search site Apartment List.
Average D.C.-area rents fell as much as 15% at the trough in 2020. The median rental price here is now up 11% just since January, rising significantly faster than during pre-pandemic years. A big reason is that vacant apartments in the Washington area now becoming increasingly scarce.