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In a recent rent report by Apartment List, a national online marketplace for residential, long-term renting, rental price growth has been outpacing prior-year averages for several months, and the national median rent has surpassed the level where it would have been if the pandemic had never happened. 

The numbers for Sarasota's rental market show sharp growth. Nationwide, rents have grown by 5.3 percent over the past year —but in Sarasota, there's been a 12 percent rise. Median rents here are $1,152 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,578 for a two-bedroom.

Other highlights: rents in Sarasota increased 3.9 percent month-over-month, compared to 2.3 percent nationally. Miami is the most expensive Florida city, with a median two-bedroom rent of $1,751 per month, but Tampa is experiencing the fastest rental market growth. And while Sarasota's rents rose sharply over the past year, some cities saw decreases, including San Francisco, New York and Seattle.

Jennifer Putnam, branch manager of Coldwell Banker Realty’s Sarasota Central office, isn't surprised at these numbers.

"We've seen a steady increase of requests. People thinking of moving here want to rent and 'try it out' before committing to purchasing," she says. "We also have a lot of people waiting on new construction, or buying existing homes and doing major remodeling who need somewhere to live in the meantime."

"We're also experiencing a shrinking of the rental market inventory," she adds. "Since it's a seller's market, many investors are selling their rental units for top dollar while they can."

"We have to find a new normal in our real estate market," she continues.  "I don't think it's sustainable, but I would have to have a crystal ball to say when [finding it] might happen."

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