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October 27, 2010

A smaller rent increase for a wider swath of Baltimore apartments

One firm that tracks apartments found a nearly 10 percent increase in rents among the snazziest complexes in the Baltimore metro area this summer, compared with a year ago. But that's probably not the case for folks in rank-and-file units.

RentJungle.com, a housing search engine that tracks ads for rentals of all types, says it found that average rents this summer were up less than 3 percent from a year ago. The site looked within a 10-mile radius of downtown Baltimore, compiling ads on sites ranging from Apartments.com to craigslist.

Jon Pastor, CEO of RentJungle, wasn't surprised that a Delta Associates report on "Class A" (read: upscale) apartment buildings showed a much bigger increase. "We look at all buildings," he said.

His site is also looking at a different geography. The nearly 10 percent increase reported by Delta Associates is for the entire metro area. (That firm did offer a few city-specific figures: a 3.4 percent increase in downtown Baltimore and a nearly 16 percent jump in the Fells Point/Inner Harbor area.)

RentJungle, looking within 10 miles of downtown, found apartment ads asking for an average monthly rent of $1,123 during the July to September period. That's up 2.7 percent from a year earlier. (It's actually down slightly from the spring, by $9 a month.)

As you might expect, $1,123 is significantly lower than what Delta Associates found Class A complexes were charging. The monthly rent for those higher-end places averaged $1,470, Delta Associates said.

So where are the priciest and cheapest neighborhoods for rentals? According to RentJungle, Federal Hill's at one extreme, with an average monthly rent of about $1,800. Fells Point, the Inner Harbor and Canton are all over $1,500. At the low end: Upper Northwood, Cedonia and Chinquapin Park-Belvedere, all between $800 and $900. (Charles Village is also under $1,000, RentJungle says.)

When I reported the 10 percent increase figure, some readers noted that the experience of the high end of the rental market doesn't necessarily hold true across the board. So it's good to see figures that try to encompass a larger spectrum of rentals.

Wonk reader Cathy suggested in a comment that asking prices for rentals (much like homes for sale) are not the full story. Though rents in Baltimore might be higher, she wrote, "the number of vacant rentals has increased. And until rents come down, those rentals will never be filled."

David found that rent increases aren't always set in stone: "I saw a 5% increase in my rent when I was sent my renewal in June. I told my landlord that I planned to move out. In September, just a few weeks before I moved, the rental office emailed me and said that they had some 'flexibility' and would I contact them. I would encourage renters to not renew unless they do a little negotiating."

But Shireen, who detailed her negotiating success story here last year, said it was a no-go for her this time: "My apartment complex, which was undergoing a transition (renovations) has been filling up over the year, mostly with Towson U. students. They've become less interested in negotiating with good long-term tenants. As a result, my rent has increased by $125/month. That's painful."

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Renting
        

Comments

I think that rent increases hadn't happened, but there would be attempts to get the cash savvy folx (many renters) pay for sins of the believers of the cult of NAR's preachers.

Mickey, I can't see that it's in RentJungle.com's interest to encourage people to buy. Its business strategy is helping people find rentals, after all.

I'm always looking for more varied sources of data. See any good ones? Shoot them my way.

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie
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