No, you’re not imagining it; rent is rising

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By: Nicole Campbell, Class of 2020

Spring and Summer months in Chicago mean one thing for a lot of students: Moving Day. Love it or hate it, being a renter in Chicago often means packing up and moving house from time to time. As some of us start the process, it’s a great moment to assess the 2019 rental market and hopefully make the process slightly less painful.

Starting with some stats, the average rent price in Chicago is about 6% higher in 2019 when compared to the previous year. While rental data from the past few months show smaller increases, it is due to the seasonality of our rental market, not the overall pricing trend. Soberingly, Chicago is *not* the most expensive when it comes to rental prices, coming in at 16th in the nation. Unsurprisingly, San Francisco and New York lead the nation in rent pricing with one-bedrooms averaging $3,690 and $2,870, respectively, per month. These numbers make Chicago’s $1,560 one-bedroom average rent look cheap, even though it’s already $60 higher than this past January’s average.

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Think your rent’s high? Chicago is actually only the 16th most expensive metro area in the U.S. Keeping rent within your budget can mean looking to different neighborhoods, especially if you don’t have school boundaries committing you to a specific ‘hood.

If you think that $1,560/month is low for renting a one-bedroom, perhaps you need to look into other neighborhoods, which is a big factor in house rental pricing. For example, Boothie’s beloved River North and West Loop neighborhoods top the list of most expensive rents, with one-bedrooms averaging $2,290 and $2,200, respectively. If you’d like to stay closer to the city’s average rent prices, you’d be best served shopping in Bucktown, East Village, and Ukrainian Village. Checking out rentals in Chinatown, Belmont Cragin, and Hermosa would get you the lowest rents in the city.

If you’re in a place to buy, the real estate market is predicted to steadily rise throughout 2019, and you might want to make that purchase sooner rather than later. As of February, Chicago is a  buyer’s market--meaning there are roughly more active home listings for sale than buyers. Per LittleBigHomes.com, Chicago’s real estate market is predicted to see higher home prices in Q3 of 2019 when compared to Q3 of 2018 with 91% accuracy and higher home prices in Q3 of 2021 vs. Q3 of 2018 with 84% accuracy. Many buyers look for properties that potentially work as personal dwellings and rental investment properties, should future circumstances require another move. The upsides of rents rising is that it benefits landlords--specifically in expensive neighborhoods and those boasting luxury rentals.

Whenever it comes time to kiss your beloved rental goodbye and part ways, you’re best to get “on the ball” early and be “ahead of the game” and your competition. With the number of rentals remaining stagnant in 2019, unlike the real estate market, the Chicago rental market is truly a landlord’s market, something that is unlikely to change in the coming years. If you’re not planning on moving for a few years, think about signing a multi-year lease or getting the ball rolling with your realtor to lock in more “fixed” housing costs for a longer period of time.