Big Tex Apartments
The Big Tex Apartments in Southtown. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

August marked the seventh straight month of rental increases in San Antonio, according to a report released Tuesday by Apartment List, a San Francisco-based real estate service.

September’s report shows rents in San Antonio have increased 0.2 percent over August and increased every month since January. While the median rent in San Antonio rose consistently over the past seven months, it increased just 0.4 percent over August 2017. The median rent in San Antonio in August was $840 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,060 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Rent growth in San Antonio over the past year compared to state and national averages.

With small but consistent increases in median rent, San Antonio is more affordable than some U.S. cities its size, the report shows. San Antonio’s rate of rent increases since August 2017 is lower compared to other cities over the same time period, including Phoenix (2.5 percent), Atlanta (1.5 percent), and San Francisco (1.1 percent).

The average year-over-year rent growth in Texas is 1.8 percent, and the national average is 1.0 percent. Compared to other major Texas cities, San Antonio’s median rent for a two-bedroom apartment, $1,060, is somewhere in the middle: less than Austin and Dallas, but greater than Houston and El Paso. The city’s median rent for a two-bedroom apartment remains below the national median of $1,180.

Lorena Peña, chairman of the San Antonio Board of Realtors, confirmed that like rent prices, home prices are rising steadily year over year in San Antonio.

“But we are happy to report the growth has not priced our city’s residents out of the home-buying and renting markets,” she said. “Simply put, more people moving to San Antonio increases the demand for housing. However, what makes San Antonio such a desirable place to live is its cost of living.”

Median rent for a two-bedroom apartment for Texas cities in August.

The slow but steady increase in rents reflects a lukewarm demand for housing over the past year in San Antonio. The rate at which newly constructed housing units are being sold or rented in San Antonio also lags behind national averages, according to data released earlier this month by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In San Antonio, 41 percent of units were rented or sold within three months of entering the market between the second quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. The census data reports “absorption rates,” or how soon privately financed construction is rented or sold after entering the market. The data only reflects rates for non-subsidized, unfurnished living spaces in buildings with five or more units.

Other Texas cities saw comparable or greater rates of absorption over the same time period including Austin (51 percent), Houston (42 percent), and Dallas (53 percent). Nationally, 56 percent of housing units built in the first quarter of 2018 were rented within the first three months after completion.

Peña said San Antonio should expect the trend of rising rents to continue as the city’s affordability attracts newcomers and its population continues to grow.

“San Antonio continues to see exponential growth in residents, so it is no surprise rental prices are going up,” she said.

Emily Royall

Emily Royall is the Rivard Report's former data director.