What’s the City of Atlanta have in common with Toledo, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Lincoln, Nebraska?

Answer: They’re all on the shortlist of large cities that actually saw rents for one-bedroom apartments go down in 2021, as other aspects of the real estate world reached historic hot points.

That’s according to the recently released Rent.com Rent Report, which provides a snapshot of what renters in cities across the U.S. are facing (or enjoying) nearly two years after pandemic lockdowns disrupted the industry.

In Atlanta’s case, the number that jumps out most is 7 percent.

That’s how much, according to the Rent.com analysis, the city’s average rents for one-bedroom apartments declined in 2021, versus the year prior. The only other major Sunbelt city in the top 10 for decreases was Miami (-9.5 percent), another construction hot zone,

How Atlanta's one-bedroom rents (dropping about 7 percent in 2021) stacked up with other U.S. cities. Rent.com/Tableau

Within Atlanta city limits, two-bedroom rents also slid by about 2.4 percent last year, for a current average of $2,217. (For context, that lands Atlanta at 35th on the list of the country’s most expensive places for renting two-bedrooms units—below smaller cities such as New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, and Tacoma.

The findings could seem counterintuitive when renting around ITP Atlanta—where $3,000 rents are becoming commonplace with new product—feels more expensive than ever. But signs of real competition abound. Anecdotally, from downtown to Buckhead Village and Kirkwood, newer complexes are offering free rent to entice tenants. Other new buildings once planned as traditional apartments have switched to “hospitality models” that allow stays for just a few days.  

Georgia overall saw rents balloon by 29 percent from 2020 to 2021, up to $1,514 monthly for rents overall. That’s a steeper increase than California (22 percent growth) but pales in comparison to Florida (46 percent), per the Rent.com analysis.  

So what gives in Georgia’s capital city?

The 194-unit Modera Decatur project along Clairemont Avenue, as seen in December, where average rents are expected to be around $3,000. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

Could an abundance of new supply be the reason for the overall rent dip? Midtown alone, for instance, is second to only Downtown Los Angeles in terms of new apartment construction in specific U.S. neighborhoods the past five years.

Could a COVD-19 lockdown hangover still be at play? (The lockdown did slam the brakes on eight years of steady rent growth in Atlanta, with places like Buckhead, Lindbergh, and the Emory area seeing sharpest declines.)

Or, just maybe, are affordable housing initiatives finally paying off in noticeable ways?

Study: Midtown (almost) leads nation in recent apartment construction (Urbanize Atlanta)