L.A. Apartment Market Is Expected to Heat Back Up
I felt like there weren’t many reasons to be in a city if I couldn’t get out of my apartment and go to work, ”says Sean Campbell, assistant at Verve literature and talent agency, who went to visit family in Novato. California during the pandemic and ended up sticking around, trading Los Angeles cityscapes for mountain biking and access to nature.
And you are not alone. While agencies, studios, and most home and away entertainment companies have worked from home for the past 15 months, large swaths of 20-somethings left Los Angeles and returned to their families or to cheaper and less central areas to save cost.
The city’s rental market felt that blow. “There was no demand to move into these more urban areas with everything closed,” says Apartment Guide managing editor Brian Carberry. The Apartment Guide Rental Report for May 2021 found that Los Angeles has the second-largest decline in one-bedroom rental prices year-over-year, behind only San Francisco, at 18.4 percent less.
But, with California reopening on June 15 and many entertainment companies scheduled to return in person in late summer or early fall, the market appears to be rebounding as those who left flock to Los Angeles.
“It’s much more affordable,” says UCLA real estate professor Eric Sussman, “and you have the light at the end of the COVID tunnel, so younger residents are coming back.” Studios and one-bedroom units, the hardest hit in 2020, are starting to fill up across the city and rents are starting to stabilize, causing the market to slowly return to its pre-pandemic peak.
According to online apartment finder Zumper, Los Angeles median rents in May were $ 1,970 for a one-bedroom apartment and $ 2,670 for a two-bedroom. By comparison, in April 2020, Zumper found one-bedroom apartments averaging $ 2,250 and two-bedroom apartments averaging $ 3,040. December 2020 marked the first time since 2016 that the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment fell below $ 2,000, and March 2021 saw the first one-bedroom rent increase in a year.
Real estate data provider CoStar reports that the apartment availability rate in Los Angeles County in June 2021 has also declined, to 5.8 percent after peaking at 6.2 percent in November.
These trends come just as Los Angeles County extended California’s eviction moratorium, which originally expired June 30 through September, which Carberry said could result in more units available and continued high rates when it is finally lifted. Sussman says, “It’s going to be a reversal of the downtrend that we’ve seen.”
ViveLA, which manages apartment complexes in West LA, Hollywood, Koreatown, Echo Park and the San Fernando Valley, has seen an increase in the number of leases over the past two months, particularly in one-bedroom units, says the customer service specialist Lana Stevens. After several residents moved out of Los Angeles and returned home in 2020, and before the recent spike, properties lowered their rates significantly, he says, starting at $ 1,695 for a studio and $ 2,250 for a bedroom. He adds that while most tenants will return to work in person in the coming weeks, many are looking for units that can accommodate work from home.
Campbell says she’s starting to look for places on the West Side, while Mariah Wilson, another Verve assistant, is moving back to Los Angeles from her home in San Diego and looking for “a bigger space.”
“Pre-pandemic, I was quite opposed to a roommate,” says Wilson, “but now I think it’s better to be around people and have the support of people when you’re going through difficult times in life.” He also hopes that there is a patio so he can go outside.
As Angelenos return at different times to different in-person job requirements, Carberry also hopes that “we can see some new trendy neighborhoods emerging when people decide they are looking for something different than where they needed to be before. ”
At a time when the soaring real estate market is putting property out of reach for many, “a lot of people will see this as a great opportunity and will really try to get some of these low priced apartments, especially in certain neighborhoods where it is very difficult to get in, ”adds Carberry. “There will be many more robberies to be found, and these will go away very, very quickly.”
This story first appeared in the June 23 issue of Newzpanda magazine. Click here for subscribe.