Recent Changes to the DC Rental Market

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Listen to conversations at your favorite DC watering hole over happy hour or gaze out at the city skyline, punctuated with cranes, and one thing will become abundantly clear – the rental market in the District is booming.


There seems to be an insatiable demand for rental units as new apartment buildings continue to spring up all over the city and further development projects are awaiting approval.


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In recent years, the city has seen the emergence of new trendy neighborhoods in once neglected parts of town that have spurred developers into action. Hipster bastions like Shaw and Bloomingdale have seemingly overnight become city darlings and are some the most sought after rental real estate in town. Large swaths of Northeast, H Street and the Southeast waterfront are burgeoning neighborhoods full of more rental options than anyone would have thought imaginable 5-10 years ago.


The cost to purchase a home in DC has been on an astronomical rise in recent years, leading to low homeownership rates, especially among younger demographics. A large percentage of the population are now finding themselves priced out of buying a home in the District and are instead looking to rental properties for longer periods of time.


As the number of renters in the city has increased, so has the cost to rent. One-bedroom units in DC average $2,000/month while two-bedroom units clock in at an average of $2,800/month. That might sound like a lot, because it is; rental prices in DC are more than two times the national average.


And living inside the DC city limits will roughly cost you 25% more than if you rent in Maryland or Virginia. Two-bedroom rentals average $2,290/month in the greater DC Metro area and while that is still well above the national average, it’s a slightly more palatable price tag than units in the District.


With demand for rental units high, the market saturated with renters and monthly rents on the rise, it may seem to be a dire time to look for housing. However, there are more options than ever in the city and new developments are pulling out all the stops to impress would-be tenants.


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This can take the form of in-building lounges and theater rooms, rooftop gardens and pools or other premium amenities. We’re consistently seeing incentives offered to renters, especially at the time of move-in, as properties try to lease up.


Time will tell if this level of growth is sustainable, but at least for now, renters have more options (particularly on the premium end of the scale) than ever before.



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