Renters Pay a Premium to Move in the Spring and Summer

Staff Report

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

As the school year winds down, many renters prepare to find and move into a new home before the next school year begins. However, a new HotPads analysis finds that renters can pay a premium for rental homes or apartments listed in late spring and early summer. In 37 of the 50 largest metro areas, the median asking rent reaches its highest point for the year in May, June or July.

Nationally, rentals listed on HotPads have the highest asking prices in May, with the second and third highest premiums in June and July, respectively. In May, the median asking rent for apartments listed on HotPads is 5.7 percent higher than it is on average, which equates to spending $88 more in rent every month. Nationally, the premium for renting in June is 4.1 percent, or $63 a month. In July, that premium is 2.4 percent, or $38 a month.

While most markets peak in the summer, the most expensive time to rent an apartment can vary by market, since local factors like housing supply can influence the amount of renter demand at any given time. In Providence, R.I., the median asking rent price peaks in March, when rentals are listed at a 2.2 percent premium. That equates to an additional $40 in rent each month.

The rental market in Columbus, Ohio doesn't peak until September, but renters in Columbus pay the highest seasonal premium. The median asking rent in Columbus is 7 percent higher in September, which translates to an extra $103 a month in rent. After Columbus, renters in Buffalo and Oklahoma City pay the next highest premiums.

The rental market has been picking up steam this year following stagnant prices in 2018. Move-in specials like rent discounts are also on the decline, so finding the best time to sign a new lease is one other way renters can scope out a deal when considering a move.

"Understanding the local market is paramount for those looking to save money on rent," said Joshua Clark, economist at HotPads. "Factors like job growth, school schedules and even the weather can influence the amount of demand in the rental market, which often drives rent prices up during high-demand summer months. While renters may not always have the luxury of choosing exactly when they want to move, it pays to keep an eye on lease lengths – those signing a lease longer than 12 months at the end of the summer might set themselves up for future discounts, but those who sign a long lease in Spring may end up paying more when it comes time to renew."

Renters hoping to time the market are most likely to find lower prices in the winter. Nationally, January is the least expensive time to rent a new house or apartment. Compared to other months, the asking rent for a typical home or apartment is $51 lower in January. December has the second highest rent discount for a typical apartment, followed by November.