In a sign that rental markets may be stabilizing in the wake of COVID-19, apartment rents registered their firstalbeit smallincrease since August, with Apartment List's national index ticking up a modest 0.1% from December to January. The uptick signals a potential turning point in the trends driving explosive pandemic-era growth in more affordable midsize cities. 

Rents are now down by 1.2% year-over-year, a slight increase from the 1.5% year-over-year decline Apartment List  reported in January. But while rents have declined by 1.1% over the past six monthsa number consistent with prior yearsthere's significant regional variation beneath the surface. Rents remained in freefall in certain markets in recent months, while others saw demand boosted as COVID-19 disrupted migration patterns and pushed many urban workers to secondary markets.  The February data, however, shows that local fluctuations may be flattening. 

"Although the data continue to show significant regional variation, the markets that have been most heavily impacted by the pandemic are beginning to enter calmer waters," the report states. "In the pricey coastal metros where rents have been plummeting, this month's data implies that we may have reached the bottom. At the other end of the spectrum, many of the mid-sized markets that have seen rents grow rapidly through the pandemic have seen just modest increases this month."

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