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Atlanta metro rent growth among the highest in the nation

by R. Michael Brown

The dramatic rise in rent that’s come to define 2021 accelerated in July, with Zumper’s National Rent Index rising 7% year over year for one-bedroom apartments and a staggering 8.7% for two-bedroom apartments.

For context, the Zumper National Rent Index rose at a steady 1% clip during most of 2020, while it was mostly flat in 2019.

Some of the metro areas that have experienced the most growth include Phoenix, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, San Diego, and Tampa Bay.

Atlanta may not have been thought of as a pandemic destination according to Zumper, but that hasn’t prevented it from posting some of the largest year-over-year rent gains in median rent in the country. While the city of Atlanta itself has experienced relatively modest gains of 8.8% and 10.1% for one- and two-bedrooms, respectively, the suburban area surrounding it has seen enormous growth.

The Atlanta metropolitan area has seen a steady influx of population over the last decade, pushing rent in the city and its suburbs to new heights. Rent in much of the area is up by double digit percentages year over year, with some suburbs up nearly 20%.

This is particularly true in the cities north of Atlanta, as Alpharetta (18.6%), Duluth (17%), Marietta (12.8%), Sandy Spring (12.9%) and Smyrna (15.4%) all posted dramatic year-over-year rises in median one-bedroom rent in July. The growth is just as dramatic for two-bedrooms in Duluth (20%), Marietta (20%) and Smyrna (15.4%).

According to the Zumper report, the wild rent growth is likely a combination of two things. First, the metro area has been growing in population at about 70,000 people per year over the last 10 years, although some years have been so high as to breach the 100,000-person mark. This growth is coming from a combination of natural population growth (births minus deaths), domestic migration and international migration. Second, the area has benefited from an influx of jobs from major corporations, which naturally brings more wealth and population growth along with it.

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