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Local Rents Are Rising Again




Exterior of an apartment building.

Last November, Sarasota County median rents made headlines when they topped an overall median price of $2,000 per month for the first time. A year later, unsustainable hiking relief is slipping away from tenants. After a momentary and marginal drop in median rents in July and August, the numbers are picking up, according to the latest data from Apartment List, a national online marketplace for long-term residential rentals.

October figures revealed that the overall median rent in Sarasota County is $1,971, up 2% from September. A one-bedroom apartment costs $1,561 and a two-bedroom apartment costs $1,919. That’s 42% more than the national two-bedroom rate of $1,348.

The summer dip in the numbers indicated a possible trend – it was the first time they had stopped their steady slope in about two years. Before the summer, Sarasota County rents had been on a steep and steady slope for about two years, since September 2020, with an unprecedented 40% increase in the overall median rent in Sarasota County in 2021.

In fact, Sarasota County’s median rent levels surpassed Miami-Dade County’s in March of this year, a significant comparison, since Miami-Dade is historically the most expensive county in the state.

However, national rental numbers are declining, “so what we’re seeing in Sarasota is at odds with that,” says Chris Salviati, senior housing economist at Apartment List.

Although the data collection methodology did not specifically identify the effects of Hurricane Ian, the sudden surge may align with the storm.

“It’s something we see with a natural disaster. It’s a supply shock. You have immediate destruction of rental inventory and you have quick loss and move. Many of these landlords are now in dire straits and need rental accommodation, which increases demand overnight. In the absence of a moratorium, this rapid change in supply and demand is probably a good guess for what is happening right now,” he says.

And those effects compound other factors, like Sarasota County having the highest home insurance rates in the nation, with landlords passing those costs on to renters. There are also historically high mortgage interest rates that have some buyers waiting to see what happens before buying in a market whose prices still elude many locals.

The Manatee County numbers, however, are cooling. The overall median rent for October was $1,802. A one-bedroom apartment costs $1,455 and a two-bedroom apartment costs $1,700, with each category seeing monthly declines since April this year.

Throughout 2022, price increases have occurred in rental markets across the state, which have seen rental price growth of 5.9% over the past year. At this point last year, statewide growth was 28%.

So far in 2022, rents have also risen 5.9% nationally, compared to 18% at this point in 2021. Year-over-year growth has slowed rapidly since the start of 2022 , but it’s still likely that this year will end up showing the second-fastest growth in rental prices since 2017, when Apartment List started collecting the data.

“We don’t see any signs of a reversal for rents to come back down, but I think we will see the market capping. This is the epicenter of the most severe market turbulence right now. To have natural disasters that make it worse put people in a difficult situation,” says Salviati.