Apartment rents rose to new heights in the greater Reno metro area yet again. The average rent in Reno-Sparks reached $1,469 during the first three months of 2021, an increase of more than 3% from the end of last year, according to real estate appraisal and consulting firm Johnson Perkins Griffin. It is the fourth straight quarterly increase in average rent for Reno-Sparks — the seventh such increase in the last eight quarters — as vacancy rates fell to near zero.

The increase has also bucked repeated projections last year by industry watchers, who expected rents to stabilize and even potentially decrease.
From 2008 to 2014, rents in Reno-Sparks remained within the $800 threshold, going as low as $821 in 2011 as the aftershock of the Great Recession caused landlords to lower rents and offer more concessions.

As the economy rebounded and the region started attracting new companies, however, rents started to see a steady increase alongside Reno’s rising median home prices. The list of new arrivals included big names such as Tesla, Apple, Panasonic and Google as well as up-and-coming companies.
The steady stream of new and expanding companies are fueling a snowball effect for a region that continues to do well with business attraction, according to Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

“You’re no longer forced to explain that there really is tech here because they kind of know it already, which makes it so much easier for us,” Kazmierski said.

The job growth would fuel a sharp increase in population for Reno-Sparks, which grew at nearly double the national rate in the last decade, according to a 2020 report by the Nevada State Apartment Association.

As demand for more homes and apartments saw a sharp increase, new construction was slow to pick up from the doldrums of the recession when the collapse of the housing bubble led to huge losses for many developers.
The increased demand for housing was reflected in the apartment sector, which started to consistently set new highs for average rent in recent years.
Susy Vasquez Executive Director at Nevada State Apartment Association remembers early 2020 quite well. “We had been forecasting rent stabilization just because so many new units were coming online,” the NVSAA executive director said. “Then the pandemic hit and it turned everything upside down.”

“So many people were moving here from other states and picking up those rental units,” Vasquez said. “Even though rents were high for our market, they were still cheaper than rents in the Bay Area.
East Sparks continues to post the highest average rent in the market at $1,686.
“Every week, I get an email from Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) and every single time, it shows all these jobs coming in,” Vasquez said.

The influx of units is one reason industry watchers continue to expect rents to stabilize.

Many of the new units, however, include high-end or luxury apartments that charge higher rents. Part of the reason why rents are skewed upward is because the new product coming online is so expensive.