Houston’s Rental Market Remains Affordable, But For How Long?

by Peter Thomas Ricci

It’s been common knowledge that Houston’s rental market is a relative steal, but is that still the case?


For some time now, Houston’s rental narrative has been one of remarkable consistency. Compared to other big cities, the narrative has gone, Houston’s rents are downright reasonable.

Did that trend continue in 2015’s first quarter, though? Courtesy of the latest trends report from Reis, we were granted an uncommonly detailed look at our local rental marketplace, and arrived at a surprising conclusion – Houston’s rental market may be losing its edge.

First, take a look at the graph below, which shows how rent has grown in the U.S.’ largest metro areas from 2014’s fourth quarter to 2015’s first quarter:


As you can see, with the exception of the mighty San Francisco, only Phoenix saw a similar rise in rents from quarter to quarter.

Granted, when it comes to average effective rents, Houston still stands out:


It’s rather amazing to consider that New York’s average rent is nearly four times that of Houston!

But again, our final graph, which shows the 12-month trend of rental growth, clouds the picture:


There are two observations that can be gleaned from that graph: one, that among large metro areas, Houston saw the fourth-highest increase in rents, an increase that far exceeds income/wage growth; and two, and 5.2 percent may actually be on the low side, given that rents were up 1 percent over just 2015’s first quarter.

Could that mean that Houston’s rents will rise even faster in 2015? We’ll get a better idea with the summer release of Reis’ next analysis.

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