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Demand for short-term apartment rentals grew in 2020

Apartment List’s quarterly Renter Migration Report (Q4 2020) offers up some interesting insights into what may be playing out in the apartment sector right now. The most striking takeaway seems to be the surge in people looking for short-term rentals (leases of six months or less). And while the data has historically shown that those looking to move to a new metro are more likely to be looking for a short-term rental compared to those searching within their current metro, that spread really widened starting in the spring of last year. See above.

And when you drill even deeper, the most popular inbound destination — at least according to Apartment List’s search data — seems to be Honolulu. In the second half of 2020, about 26.8% of users searching in Honolulu from somewhere else in the US were looking for a short-term lease. This is compared to 14.9% during the same time period in 2019. Intuitively this makes sense to me. If you’re in lockdown and working from home, why the hell not do it from Hawaii? We’ve all have this same thought.

Apartment List goes on to speculate that this short-term rental spike could be an indication that the inbound and outbound flows we’re seeing right now with certain cities may not be all that permanent. People are simply optimizing for the current environment. Though this data is representative of intent, rather than of leases consummated. Either way, that would be my guess. But who knows. Maybe some people will discover that surfing in the morning and working from the beach is a pretty enjoyable way to live.

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