Rent Report

Houston rent prices reflect Harvey landfall, says new report

Houston rent prices reflect Harvey landfall, says new report

downtown Houston skyline at night
Photo by © Debora Smail/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Texas had a challenging 2017, largely fueled by the swath of damage left by Hurricane Harvey. Plagued by natural disasters from wildfires to floods, 2017 was the costliest year of natural catastrophes. Harvey proved to be the most expensive of the year, causing $125 billion in damages, and its impact was felt everywhere, including the rental market.

Earlier this year, we saw a report from apartment listing service Abodo that found Houston’s rent prices were rising at the third-fastest rate in the country. As of July, one-bedroom apartments in Houston cost a median of $1,053, and the prices rose an average of 3.8 percent a month.

In August, when Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Houston was the hardest hit city in Texas. Abodo’s newest report, which tracks rental trends throughout 2017, found that the city’s rental landscape was also greatly impacted. Despite the consistently high monthly rent increases through July, August ushered in four straight months of declines, which started strong in September and diminished toward the end of the year.

In August, rents dipped a slight 0.6 percent, but in September, they plummeted 6.5 percent — the second-largest drop in the country that month. In October, the decline wasn’t quite as steep, but was still a significant 5.1 percent, which was the country’s third-largest drop. November saw another decrease of 2.9 percent, but in December, as the market started to find its footing again, rents were up 1.2 percent.

Houston hit its year-high for rent in July, with the median one-bedroom rent at $1,191, up from $951 in January, and tumbled to $1,034 by December. Despite the midyear disruption, rent for Houston apartments went up an average of 0.8 percent each month — four times faster than the national average of 0.2 percent.

Corpus Christi had Texas’ fastest rising rents, up an average of 1.9 percent each month. Rents fell the fastest in El Paso, where rents dropped about 1.9 percent a month, while Lubbock apartments were down 1.4 percent a month. Combining all of Texas’ cities, the state is just one of 28 to see an overall rent increase in 2017, rising an average of 0.5 percent a month throughout the year.

Although Houston is Texas’ largest city, apartments in Austin and Dallas both had higher median rents in 2017, at $1,142 and $1,190, respectively. 

Going into 2018, it seems Houston’s rental housing market is prepared to resume its streak of rises, with the 10th-highest increase in the country: One-bedroom rents are up 2.2 percent, to $1.057. Two other Texas cities beat out Houston, however, for high monthly increases: Fort Worth one-bedroom apartments are up 3 percent, and Richardson’s are up 3.2 percent.  

For more on where rents are rising and falling the fastest, visit Abodo’s 2017 Annual Rent Report