Business & Economy

Why rents in LA's suburbs are rising faster than in urban areas

A model home in Lancaster, where rents have risen by more than 7 percent in the last year, according to Zillow.
A model home in Lancaster, where rents have risen by more than 7 percent in the last year, according to Zillow.
Molly Peterson/KPCC

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For people looking to escape to the outer reaches of Southern California in search of cheaper rent, the real estate website Zillow has some bad news: Mirroring a national trend, rents in parts of suburban Los Angeles are now rising faster than in urban areas.

Several factors are at work. For one thing, urban rents have shot up so much the last few years that many tenants are priced out so they look farther afield. That’s why Lancaster rents are up 7.4 percent over the last year, compared with 2.5 percent for Santa Monica.

In addition, as millennials grow up they're turning out to be not so different from their parents. 

"As they age they can’t buy yet, but still want to move out to access better schools, to have more space for kids and neighborhood safety," said Skylar Olsen, a senior economist at Zillow.

Finally, a lot of foreclosed houses snapped up by investors during the recession "haven’t come towards the for-sale market," she said, so they're being rented out. 

One-quarter of the homes in the L.A. metro area are rented, compared with 19 percent for the U.S. as a whole, according to Olsen. She expects rents to continue to rise faster in the suburbs for the foreseeable future.

In the last year, Zillow found that rents were up 4.9 percent in urban parts of the L.A. metro area, compared with 5.2 percent in suburban areas, the first time urban rents are growing more slowly since 2014.

Nationwide, the median monthly cost of a suburban rental is up about 2.5 percent year-over-year, compared with 2.3 percent for urban areas.