Renters turned to alternative markets that offered more indoor and outdoor space during 2021.

2021 – Highly Competitive Year for Renters

Renters in many rental hub markets during 2021 faced a perfect storm of high demand, high occupancy rates and stiff competition from rental applicants with great credit scores.  As in for-sale markets, rental applicants faced bidding wars for available apartments.

A recent year-end study from RentCafe indicated that “…small, outdoor-friendly markets became even hotter than popular renter hubs.”

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Ten Most Competitive Rental Markets in 2021, according to RentCafe

The very most competitive rental markets in 2021 experienced occupancy rates of about 97%.   An average of 30 renter applicants with strong credit scores competed for units that were rented out within an average of two to three weeks.

Take a look:

  1. Eugene OR
  2. San Diego CA
  3. Knoxville TN
  4. Central Coast CA
  5. Sacramento CA
  6. Providence RI
  7. Lehigh Valley PN
  8. Tacoma WA
  9. Wilmington NC
  10. Orange County CA

Californians Relocated to More Affordable Metros Within California

Counter to widespread chatter about a great California exodus over the last couple of years, California residents, in actuality, relocated to more affordable metros within the Golden State, according to a recent study by the University of California at Berkeley.

Eight of the top 50 rental markets during 2021, all of which fell within the country’s top 20 hottest rental markets, were located in California.

(RentCafe’s top rental markets in 2021 confirm UC Berkeley’s findings.)  Those top eight markets included San Diego, Central Coast, Sacramento, Orange County, Eastern Los Angeles County and Inland Empire.

Movement of Big-City Northeastern Renters to Smaller Markets in Region

As big-city northeastern renters opted for space and access to nature instead of lockdowns and crowds in New York City and New Jersey, smaller metro areas became more desirable rental market alternatives during 2021.

Places such as Providence RI, Long Island NY, Central New Jersey and Lehigh Valley PN all had occupancy rates of 96.5% and higher.  Again, RentCafe’s data confirm these findings.

Thanks to RentCafe and Inman.



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