Rentals across the U.S. may be easing and finally giving tenants a break

Rentals across the U.S. may be easing and finally giving tenants a break

. Nationwide, median rental prices dropped for the fourth consecutive month in October, according to a monthly report released this week by real estate search engine Zumper.

The average one-bedroom rental now fetches $1,213 per month, down 3 percent ($36) from the previous month’s median rate. The median two-bedroom rental rate dropped by 2.6 percent from September, to $1,462.

The trend links back to softening in other areas of real estate; mortgage financing is becoming harder to obtain, and the monthly housing payment is now a much larger part of a buyer’s total income compared to pre-recession years. The only thing that’s holding prices up has been a slow-moving wave of renters looking for homes to purchase in areas where the rental rates are still higher than average. Those houses have largely been in big cities like San Francisco and New York.

Meanwhile, in smaller urban hubs, rental prices are seeing less activity and landlords are having to adjust their prices in order to attract tenants. It might take a few more months for some of those adjustments to reach the report’s data, but Zumper’s findings suggest several of the markets that experienced the biggest declines in October have lower median rental rates than the nationwide standard.

Movers looking for a good deal may want to explore Washington D.C. , the Northeast or especially the Midwest. Prices in the nation’s capital dropped 9.3 percent from September, while Pittsburgh and St. Louis experienced the biggest declines — 8.4 and 8.3 percent, respectively — of the 20 largest markets measured.

The cheaper rents are already a big boon for renters — generated savings as high as $100 per month in some of the markets — and should eventually trickle down to benefit those looking to buy, too. It will probably take several months for the cost-saving cycle to take full effect, but tenants who would otherwise be priced out may now have an opportunity to become homeowners.