Chilling Out

The Sarasota-Manatee Rental Market Is Finally Cooling Off

The numbers remain high, but the drop in prices is officially a trend—not just a fluke.

By Kim Doleatto September 1, 2022

Exterior of an apartment building in Sarasota

A Sarasota apartment building.

Following six months of decreases in overall rent prices in Sarasota County, we can officially say that was unrealistic growth in the rental market is finally cooling off. 

Overall median rent prices in Sarasota County peaked in February of this year at $2,036, but they've been on the decline ever since. The price for a one-bedroom apartment that same month was $1,612, and a two-bedroom was $1,982, according to the latest Apartment List report.

The August decrease from July was by just less than 1 percent, but the decrease over the last six months for overall rents amounts to roughly 6 percent. 

Still, the numbers far outpace most other Florida metropolitan areas.

Sarasota-Bradenton-North Port metro data garnered national attention when it showed a 47 percent uptick in rents since the pandemic began in March of 2020—the fastest-growing among the 100 largest metro areas in the country.

“The last couple of years, it's been unprecedented rent inflation," says Rob Warnock, senior research associate at Apartment List, a national rent data hub. "We’ve seen price declines for six consecutive months now, which won’t make the county suddenly affordable relative to what has happened over the course of the pandemic, but it's certainly a welcome trend relative to what we've seen in Florida."

For instance, “from January to August last year, we saw a 25 percent increase in new lease prices for Sarasota County. That’s a lot in a short time,” Warnock says. "Prices are still significantly up from two years ago, but at least there's been a strong deceleration of rent growth."

The last time rents in the county went down for three months in a row was in June, July and August of 2020. At one point, renting in Sarasota-Manatee more expensive than in Miami-Dade,.

Pre-pandemic, in February of 2020, the overall median rent in Sarasota County was $1,358. A one-bedroom apartment was $1,075 and a two-bedroom was $1,322.

Currently, the overall monthly median rent stands at $1,919—$1,519 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,868 for a two-bedroom.

The market may have finally hit a ceiling, and demand for housing is cooling.

“It could just be that the market reached its limit of what tenants are willing to accept. And we’ve seen demand has shifted a bit. In 2021, the sunbelt is where we were really seeing the region get the majority of inbound moves," says Warnock. "Now that's shifting and we're seeing more search interest in rust belt regions of the country or around the great lakes. Florida has become significantly more expensive, and price chasing is usually the most influential factor in moving. If Florida loses out on the comparative advantage, that inbound traffic will change. With prices going up as fast as they did, it’s to be expected."

Manatee County is seeing a similar trend take hold, with a deceleration in rents for the past five months. Now the median overall rent is $1,811, one bedroom apartment is $1,463 and a two-bedroom is $1,708. 

Manatee County median rents peaked in March of this year, reaching $1,912 overall. In March of 2021, the median rent was $1,297, making for a whopping 38 percent jump year over year.

The median two-bedroom rent in both counties are $1,868 and $1,708,  respectively—well above the national average of $1,364.

"In the coming months, it'll be unlikely that rent prices to start spiking again. I think this trend of cooling down will continue," Warnock says.

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