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Renters in some of the country’s hottest housing markets got some relief in March, despite rent increasing at both a national level and in some of the country’s largest cities. Although rent dipped in the country’s two most expensive markets, New York City and San Francisco, they still remain priced well above the national average, according to a new market report released earlier this week by the listing site RentCafe.

To track changes in rental prices nationwide, for the first time RentCafe expanded the scope of its survey from 75 to 250 cities, looking only at cities with populations over 100,000 and a rental stock of at least 2,800 apartments in 50-plus unit buildings.

RentCafe determined that the average rent nationwide increased $6 to $1,312 in March, an increase of 0.5 percent from the previous month and 2.7 percent from last year. March’s increase was the slowest annual rent growth rate in three years, and, incredibly half of last year’s recorded growth rate of 5.7 percent, says RentCafe.

And while 84 percent of the 250 cities surveyed by RentCafe recorded annual rent growth in March, some of the country’s hottest markets recorded decreases, with 12 cities seeing declines and 28 plateauing. Manhattan and San Francisco, the county’s two most expensive cities for renters, both recorded annual decreases in rent.

Rent in San Francisco declined for the third consecutive month in March, falling 4.3 percent annually to $3,330 — the largest year-over-year decline in rent of all cities surveyed. March also marked the second month in a row that San Francisco recorded the largest annual decline.

This is made even more noteworthy by the fact that 90 percent of California cities in the survey recorded gains in March, compared to only five California cities recording declines in March. In fact, 12 of the top 20 cities recording the fastest rental growth in March were located in California, according to RentCafe.

Meanwhile, rent in New York declined 2.2 percent year-over-year to $4,094 in March. And although New York still reigns as the city with the most expensive rent in the country, March’s decrease was one of the largest recorded in the month.

Yet, even with the slight dip in New York City cost, renters will still need to earn more than an average of $150,000 annually to afford an apartment there.

Other cities that recorded large annual decreases in rent were Odessa, TX (4.2 percent), Broken Arrow, OK (3.9 percent), Corpus Christi, TX (2.9 percent), and Oklahoma City, OK (2.6 percent).

With 14.3 percent annual price growth, Lancaster, CA recorded the largest increase, followed by Stockton, CA (12 percent) and Modesto, CA (10.7 percent).

Click here to read the entire report.

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