First gas, then heating and now rents. Runaway inflation is driving rents skywards across America, delivering an average of a 20 percent increase in the U.S.'s biggest 50 cities over the past 12 months, a study details. The rent spike has stung wallets nowhere more than in the Miami metro area, where the median rent surged to an eyewatering $2,850, 49.8 percent higher than the previous year. Other cities across Florida — Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville — and the Sun Belt destinations of Texas and Tennessee, all saw spikes of more than 25 percent in some cities during that time period. Rising rents and high inflation are moving hand-in-hand to become one of the nation's top economic problems. Economists worry about the impact of rent increases on inflation because the big jumps in new leases feed into the U.S. consumer price index, which is used to measure inflation.
Rising rents are expected to be a driving force in inflation this year
Average rents rose 14 percent last year nationwide with cities like Austin, New York and Miami notching increases of as much as 40 percent, according to real estate firm Redfin. The DFW Metroplex increased 29 percent. And Americans expect rents will continue to rise — by about 10 percent this year — according to a report released this month by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "Rents really shot up in the second half of 2021," said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin. "The pandemic was kind of a pause on the economy and now that things are reopening, inflation is picking up, rents are going up and people are realizing they don't have as much disposable income as they might have thought they had." Higher rent prices are also expected to be a key driver of inflation in coming months. The share of first-time home buyers has dropped to its lowest level in eight years, according to the National Association of Realtors. The group estimates that nearly 1 million renters were priced out of the housing market last year because of rising real estate prices and increased competition from wealthier, all-cash buyers.