Last November, Sarasota County median rents made headlines when they surpassed an overall median price of $2000 a month for the first time. One year later, relief from unsustainable hikes eludes tenants. After a momentary, marginal drop in median rents in July and August, numbers are ticking back up, according to the latest data from Apartment List, a national online marketplace for long-term residential rentals.
October numbers revealed that overall median rent in Sarasota County stands at $1,971, a 2 percent increase over September. A one-bedroom apartment is $1,561 and a two-bedroom apartment is $1,919. That's 42 percent higher than the national two-bedroom rate of $1,348.
The summer dip in numbers pointed to a possible trend–it was the first time they had halted their steady incline in roughly two years. Before the summer, Sarasota County rents had been on a steep and steady incline for roughly two years, since September 2020, with an unprecedented 40 percent increase in overall median rent in Sarasota County in 2021.
In fact, Sarasota County’s median rent levels surpassed Miami-Dade County’s in March of this year—a significant comparison, since Miami-Dade is historically the most expensive county in the state.
However, the national rental numbers are cooling, "so what we're seeing in Sarasota is at odds with that," says Chris Salviati, senior housing economist at Apartment List.
Although the methodology for collecting data didn't tease out the effects of Hurricane Ian specifically, the sudden uptick may align with the storm.
“That's something we see with a natural disaster. It’s a supply shock. You have immediate destruction of rental inventory and you have a rapid loss and displacement. Many of those folks who owned are now in dire circumstances and need a place to rent, increasing demand overnight. In the absence of a moratorium, this quick supply and demand shift is probably a good hypothesis for what’s happening right now," he says.
And those effects are compounding other factors, like Sarasota County having th highest rates of homeowners insurance in the country, with homeowners passing on those costs to tenants. There's also historically high mortgage interest rates that have some home shoppers waiting to see what happens before buying in a market with price points that still elude many locals.
Manatee County numbers, however, are cooling. The overall median October rent was $1,802. A one-bedroom apartment is $1,455 and a two-bedroom apartment is $1,700, with each category seeing monthly declines since April of this year.
Throughout 2022, price increases have been occurring for rental markets across the state, which logged a rental price growth of 5.9 percent over the past year. At this point last year, statewide growth was at 28 percent.
So far in 2022, rents are also up 5.9 percent nationally, compared to 18 percent at this point in 2021. Year-over-year growth has decelerated rapidly since the start of 2022, but it’s still likely that this year will end up showing the second fastest growth in rental pricing since 2017, when Apartment List first began collecting the data.
"We're not seeing signs of a reversal for rents to come back down but I think we'll see that the market will plateau. This is the epicenter of the most severe turbulence in the market right now. To have natural disasters compounding that puts folks in a difficult spot," Salviati says.