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As pandemic restrictions ease and remote work becomes a permanent fixture, Americans continue to seek homes in communities with more relaxed lifestyles — particularly in Florida and the Northeast, home to the country’s most competitive markets for renters, according to a new analysis of real estate data.

The analysis, released in June by RentCafe, a division of the real estate software firm Yardi Systems, showed that Miami-Dade County, home to more than 20 miles of beaches, was the most competitive area for renters during the first four months of 2022. Also among the Top 10: Harrisburg, Pa.; Orlando, Fla.; North and Central Jersey, Southwest Florida, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Rochester, N.Y., and Milwaukee.

The rental trend has been fueled in part by stubbornly high house prices and rising mortgage rates, which are pushing would-be buyers into an already overheated rental market, the report said. To determine the hottest markets so far this year, researchers considered five metrics: average vacant days, occupancy levels, prospective renters competing for listings, lease renewal rates, and the volume of new apartments built in the first four months of the year.

Various factors influenced the outcome, including rapid inflation and the rise of remote work, said Doug Ressler, manager of business intelligence for Yardi Matrix, a division of Yardi Systems. “It would be nice in these mosaics if one thing contributed to growing demand,” he said, “but each market has its own profile.”

For instance, Miami-Dade County expanded its housing inventory from January to April to accommodate an influx of renters. But the lure of looser Covid restrictions and low taxes kept the area highly competitive. “Miami has a business-friendly climate,” Mr. Ressler said.

On the other hand, Harrisburg — which is close to Philadelphia, New York and Washington — added no new apartments in the same period, prompting tenants to stay put and renew their leases.



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