Pittsburgh rents on the listing site Abodo dropped an average of 1.7% a month in 2017, the fourth-largest decrease in the nation.

The Madison, Wis.-based rental database found that in 2017, Pittsburgh's average monthly rent decrease was 1.67% for a one-bedroom, the fourth-biggest decrease in the nation, ending the year at a median rent of $1,033. For a two-bedroom, rents fell an average of 1.3% a month, and came out to a median of $1,283.

Abodo compared its listings monthly and tracked the month-over-month change in the median rents for one- and two-bedroom rental units. Spokesman Sam Radbil said the company counted only properties within the city limits that were listed on its website.

Adobe Stock

While Abodo's numbers may run counter to the image of all the new, luxury apartments being built in the city and the influx of high-salaried tech workers being wooed by companies like Google and Uber, Radbil credited the rapid addition of new housing to the market and a higher-than-average vacancy rate with keeping rents lower.

"Although a large number of developments have been of the luxury variety, Pittsburgh's rent price has actually shown a slight decrease because of the great ability to keep up with the demand for units," Radbil said. "Even while luxury units become more expensive, a more than 5% vacancy rate...leaves openings for renters and less leverage for landlords who want to increase prices."

Chris Briem, an economist with the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research, said the increase in supply, even at the high end of the market, may attract renters to the new units and push down rents in older apartments.

"For sure there has been a lot of new supply in the city, and a lot of it has been for higher-priced units. Some of the folks moving into those new units may be new city residents...But some of those renters were folks who would have otherwise been renting in other apartments within the city," Briem said. "So you likely have seen downward pressure on rents for older rental units within the city."

Briem noted that the new apartment construction has been concentrated in just a few of the city's 90 neighborhoods, and without overall population growth in the city (it's adding young people but not as fast as its older residents are leaving or dying) there won't be as much increase in the price of buying or renting, he said.

"Population is pretty stable in both the city and region," he said. "You really need to see population increases to see large increases in housing costs, whether you're an owner or a renter."

Tribune Content Agency