Jun 6, 2022 - Business

Richmond rent way up since start of pandemic

Richmond-area median rent price
Data: CoStar; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Everywhere you look, the price of rent is up in Richmond — way up — and the trend is expected to continue for the rest of the year.

Driving the news: The average asking rent for metro Richmond is now $1,408 a month — a 12% increase year-over-year (May to May) and a 24% increase since the start of the pandemic, according to data shared with Axios by Michael Cobb, director of market analytics for commercial real estate research firm CoStar Group.

  • "We've had almost 1,200 people call in the last three months looking for an affordable place to stay," Jovan Burton, executive director for the Partnership for Housing Affordability, a Richmond-based nonprofit that's trying to address the region's lack of affordable housing, told Axios.

What's happening: Rent has gone up in Richmond and everywhere, but wages aren't rising at the same rate, Burton said.

  • The volume of calls the partnership is getting is the highest it's been in the agency's 18-year history, Burton added.

Details: Increasingly, Burton said, many recent calls are from people who need to move because their monthly rent has shot up at lease renewal. That includes:

  • A Richmond resident whose rent was raised from $610 to $825 a month.
  • Also in Richmond, a resident whose rent spiked from $1,176 to $1,376.
  • In Chesterfield, a resident had rent raised from $1,200 to $1,428.
  • And the largest spike, also in Chesterfield, where an elderly resident was told the apartment rent would go from $1,057 to $1,400.

What they're saying: "It's very important to note that literally everyone needs affordable housing," Burton said. "No one can pay 80% of their income in housing. The difference is, for the people on the lower income range, there are fewer options. The people at the bottom are getting squeezed out."

Of note: CoStar's data shows Richmond is affordable compared to other markets, Cobb said, using what percentage of income Richmonders would need to spend on rent.

  • In 2019, renting in Richmond required 20% of the median income; now it's 23% — below the national average of 27%, Cobb said.

Yes, but: CoStar's data uses the region's median income — $75,000 per household — to judge affordability, Cobb said.

  • The median household income in the city of Richmond, according to the latest census data, is $51,421.
  • And 49% of all Richmond households report an income under $50,000.

What we're watching: As trends suggest Richmond is becoming a destination for residents from other pricier cities, it's likely to only exacerbate the affordability crunch.

  • "People are moving from other places to Richmond because it's more affordable than where they are, but that doesn't do anything for the people already here," Burton said.
Data: CoStar; Chart: Karri Peifer/Axios
Data: CoStar; Chart: Karri Peifer/Axios
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