After a year of rapidly rising rents, the average monthly price of rent in the Baltimore metropolitan area dipped last month — and could keep falling.
That’s according to real estate economist Ken H. Johnson, who teaches at Florida Atlantic University. Together with researchers from Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of Alabama, Johnson publishes a monthly analysis of rent prices across the country.
The analysis is based on monthly data released by Zillow for rental units in the Baltimore metro area, including Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford Howard and Queen Anne’s counties, an area with a total population nearing 3 million. Johnson said their analysis controls for factors like location, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and more to find an average monthly rent price. In October, that number was $1,798.
That’s more than 4% higher than it was in October 2021, but down 0.4% compared to September.
“The rents are going in the right direction in Baltimore,” said Johnson, noting that the area’s rental market had been overheating in recent months.
Rent prices across the country began spiking after the end of the federal moratorium on evictions late last year, Johnson said, at times hitting year-over-year increases of 10% or more in some areas. But recently those price increases have softened, he said, and even started to reverse.
Johnson said rent prices will not return to pre-pandemic levels, but they could decline in areas like metropolitan Baltimore.
As part of their analysis, Johnson and the researchers calculate what the average rental price in a given market should be based on historical data. The rent in most metropolitan areas generally rises between 3 to 5% each year, Johnson said, and while prices can spike or plummet, they eventually return to this mean.
The researchers looked at the rental markets in 100 metropolitan areas across the country and found that all 100 were overheated in October. The Baltimore area ranked 84th on that list.
The researchers calculated the average monthly rent is nearly $100 above what it should be, based on historical trends. That means the market is overheated, but not nearly as bad as it is around Miami, where the average monthly rent is more than $400 higher than expected.
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Johnson believes the Baltimore area rental market will return to its status quo faster than other markets in part because fewer people are moving here than areas like Miami, where the population is increasing more rapidly and creating more demand for housing.
Indigo Null, a tenant organizer and housing rights advocate with Baltimore Renters United, said it’s important to note that the rental market in Baltimore City could be much different from surrounding counties. The data used by Johnson and the other researchers comes from Zillow, and Null said that data might not capture a full picture of Baltimore’s rental market.
“There’s a whole huge chunk of the rental market that’s never going to end up on Zillow,” Null said. “Especially in Baltimore City, there are a lot of landlords who only rent through places like Facebook, Craigslist, advertising on the street.”
Baltimore Renters United advocates on behalf of tenants and tracks eviction cases for nonpayment. Null said if there has been a decrease in monthly rent prices in the city of Baltimore, there doesn’t appear to be any slowdown in evictions.
“If anything, honestly, they seem like they’re speeding up,” Null said.
Johnson noted that he doesn’t know the vagaries of the rental market in metro Baltimore. The region comprises diverse communities with vast income disparities. Still, based on the available data, Johnson believes average rent prices overall could continue to drop.
“My belief is that you’re going to see rents decline a little bit, actually go down, rather than go up at a slower rate,” Johnson said.