January 30, 2023

Apartment rents in Oklahoma City have skyrocketed in the past year. Overall, they continue to rise. (Photo by Anders Holm-Jensen via Unsplash)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Apartment rental prices are leveling out somewhat, but still rising in Oklahoma City.

“It was kind of a wild ride. It will jump up exceptionally for a few months and then jump down again,” said Jon Leckie, researcher and writer for Rent. “Every floor is higher than the last, so it’s up.”

Leckie said the huge price swings in Oklahoma City were unusual. Most places hovered around or fell from some price pre-pandemic before leveling off. In the spring of 2021, those prices shot straight up before leveling off again, he said.

Prices in Oklahoma City bottomed in May 2021 and peaked in December, Leckie said.

The latest rent report shows that 14 of the 50 most populous US metro areas saw year-over-year price declines in December, and Oklahoma City saw the second-biggest decline of 6.4%.

This was followed in three of the past six months by price increases of around 20 percent compared to the previous year. “It took off too quickly,” said Leckie.

Today’s prices in Oklahoma City are about the same as before the pandemic.

“If you are looking (to rent an apartment) now is the right time. Prices are likely to pick up again in the spring or summer,” he said.

Nationally, year-on-year rental growth continued to slow in December. According to Rent Report, the 4.77% increase was the lowest annual change since July 2021 and represents the fourth consecutive month of single-digit increases.

In September, when the downturn began, prices fell almost 2.5%. The national median price for an apartment fell back below $2,000 to $1,978, the lowest median price since April 2022, according to the report.

Rent Report combines all apartment types from studio apartments to the largest to calculate the average price, Leckie said. Of course, the prices vary greatly depending on the location.

The median price today is $4,033 in New York City, consistently the highest price, and $1,173 in Oklahoma City.

As a relatively inexpensive place to live, Oklahoma City sees strong immigration from many higher-priced markets. According to Leckie, this is a factor driving rent increases.

Nationally, the declines in both monthly and annual growth rates are being driven by broad trends across the rental industry, including increased vacancy rates, new inventory, a cooling housing market and seasonal below-normal demand, he said.

“A lot of apartments have come online recently and there are many more planned for 2023,” said Leckie.

Supply chain shortages and other pandemic issues slowed or halted much construction, contributing to price hikes and even brief bidding wars for housing, he said.

At the state level, Rent Report shows that December median rents fell month-over-month in more than half of markets. New York saw the biggest monthly decline of 5.15%, despite growing more than 20% year over year. Washington posted a nearly 4% drop along with five other states that reported monthly declines larger than the national median: Oklahoma, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Oregon.

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