: Some good news: One key driver of inflation is finally showing signs of easing

United States

Rent growth is beginning to cool. But it’s descending from a heck of a peak.

Rental prices climbed 7.2% between September 2021 to September of this year, the largest annual increase since 1982, according to consumer price data released Thursday. Overall, shelter costs were also among the most significant drivers in rising consumer prices, along with the cost of food and medical care, the Labor Department said.

Still, it’s not all bad news for tenants. A new report from Realtor.com out Thursday found that nationwide, median rental prices in 50 large metros grew at their slowest annual pace in 16 months in September — at 7.8%. That marked the second consecutive month of single-digit year-over-year growth for 0-2 bedroom properties, and it meant that median asking rents fell by $ 12 in a month, Realtor.com said. 

Housing inflation in the Consumer Price Index lags trends in the rental market, though, meaning the slowdown in rent growth might not register in the data for a while. 

While median rental prices are still nearly 23% higher than they were two years ago, they’re no longer climbing at breakneck speeds with no end in sight. These days, economists say, that counts as a silver lining. 

“After more than a year of double-digit yearly rent gains and nearly as many months of record-high rents, it’s especially important to see consistency before we confirm a major shift like the recent rental market cool-down,” Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale said in a statement. “But September data provides that evidence, as national rents continued to pull back from their latest all-time high registered just two months ago.”

“This return of more seasonal norms indicates that rental markets are charting a path back toward a more typical balance between supply and demand, compared to the previous year,” Hale added. “We expect rent growth to keep slowing in the months ahead, partly driven by the impact of inflation on renters’ budgets.” 

Affordability, however, is worsening, Realtor.com said. Blame the fact that consumer prices are rising faster than wages. 

(Realtor.com is operated by News Corp NWSA, -2.13% subsidiary Move Inc., and MarketWatch is a unit of Dow Jones, which is also a subsidiary of News Corp.)

A Redfin RDFN, -7.03% report out Thursday, meanwhile, said rents grew 9% year-over-year in September — the slowest pace since August 2021. Rents were still way up year-over-year in cities like Oklahoma City (24.1%), Pittsburgh (20%), and Indianapolis (17.9%.)