By Jorge Casuso
September 27, 2023 -- Bucking a nationwide trend, Santa Monica rents rose 2.1 percent in September, but the rate of growth has flattened after soaring last year, according to the latest monthly report by Apartment List.
The median price for a one-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica was $2,082 in September and $2,594 for a two-bedroom apartment, based on listings posted on the popular rental website.
Rents in Santa Monica bucked a nationwide trend that saw the overall median rent fall -0.5 percent to $1,364 in September, the second straight monthly drop as the rental market's slow season kicked in a month early this year, according to the report.
"Rent growth follows a seasonal pattern -- prices generally go up during the spring and summer and go down during the fall and winter," researchers noted.
September's -0.5 percent rent drop nationwide was the steepest decrease recorded by Apartment List's index, which began tracking rents in 2018, for what is typically the first month of rent declines, according to the report.
In September, rents fell month-over-month in 85 of the nation's 100 largest cities, including Los Angeles, where rents fell -0.2 percent over the past month to $1,871.
Nationwide, the annual rent growth of -1.2 percent marked "a major deceleration from recent years, when annual rent growth neared 18 percent nationally and soared to over 40 percent in a handful of popular cities," researchers wrote.
By comparison, over the past nine months, rents in Santa Monica rose 1.6 percent after rising 10.5 percent over the same period last year, according to data compiled by the site.
In September, Santa Monica had the biggest rent increase across the LA region, where Apartment List tracked 26 cities in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The beach city's overall median rent of $2,203 was 4.9 percent higher than the $2,100 median rent for the region as a whole, according to the data.
Marina del Rey continues to be by far the most expensive market in the region, with a median rent of $4,715, while Long Beach is still the metro’s most affordable city, with a median rent of $1,671.
The metro's area's fastest annual rent growth is taking place in Torrance, where rents grew by 4.7 percent, while the slowest is in Long Beach, whee rents dropped -5.1 percent, according to the report.
Changes in apartment vacancies are largely responsible for the "price fluctuations that have rocked the rental market over the past three years," according to the report.
After rising 6.8 percent during the early months of the coronavirus emergency "as many Americans consolidated households," the vacancy index shrunk to 3.9 in 2021 and 2022 as more households competed for a dwindling supply of vacant units, the report said.
But vacancies have now increased for 23 consecutive months and have reached 6.4 percent, "surpassing pre-pandemic levels and approaching the pandemic peak set in 2020.
"This easing has begun to level out a bit in recent months, but there’s still a good chance that the vacancy rate will continue trending upward in the months ahead," researchers predicted.
"As apartment demand wanes throughout the remainder of the year, and apartment supply improves through a strong construction pipeline, expect rent growth to cool further for the remainder of the year," the report concluded.
Apartment List Rent Report data are drawn monthly from the millions of listings on the site, according to the website.
The report calculates one-bedroom and two-bedroom rents and "aims to identify transacted rent prices, as opposed to the listed rent prices." To view the full report click here.