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National renter satisfaction started to level out at the end of 2019, ending the steady increase that began at the end of 2017. This past quarter, 78.4% of residents reported “Good” or “Excellent” satisfaction with their overall renting experience. The past two quarters have each seen a slight decrease of 0.1 percentage points, indicating the two-year upward trend is leveling out.

Similar to last quarter, Atlanta saw a year-over-year decrease and had the lowest satisfaction percentage out of the surveyed markets. Boston continued to have the highest overall satisfaction of the major markets at 83.9%, and New York was close behind with 83.1% of residents satisfied with their living experience. Los Angeles saw the highest growth from this time last year with an increase of 2.7 percentage points, followed by San Francisco with an increase of 1.8 percentage points.

San Francisco Leads Major Markets in Increase of Value for Amount Paid

As it has been for the past two years, national value for amount paid continued to climb this past quarter—61.9% of residents were satisfied with the value received for their rent, which is up from 55.9% in the first quarter of 2018. Continuing the national trend, the majority of major markets have seen a year-over-year increase in value for amount paid, with the exception of Atlanta and Denver. Atlanta, which had the highest score of all the markets in the third quarter, decreased year over year by 0.9 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2019. Boston now takes the lead with 67.4% of its residents satisfied with the value received for their rent.

San Francisco saw a year-over-year increase of 6.9 percentage points in value for amount paid, despite above-average rent prices in the market (Rent Path). According to Yassine Ugazu from Mashvisor, the Bay Area has seen significant economic growth over the past few decades and has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, which, in turn, has affected the real estate market's soaring prices. The health of the economy continues to attract people searching for better job prospects, and this growth is expected to sustain the high demand for rental properties (Mashvisor). As people come to find good jobs in a city full of opportunity, the high cost of rent is likely worth it to obtain a secure, well-paying job.

Los Angeles Sees Large Increase in Renewal Intent

National resident renewal intent had been steadily rising since Q2 of 2018, but this past quarter renewal intent remained flat with 58.1% of residents indicating they are likely to renew their lease. Of the major markets, Los Angeles had the highest year-over-year increase of 8.5 percentage points, and Dallas saw an increase of 6.1 percentage points. Boston continues to have the highest renewal intent level at 66.1%. Atlanta, Denver, and Seattle all saw a small decrease in the percentage of residents likely to renew.

Boston boasts the highest score among the top markets in all three performance indicators and has also improved year over year in each. In PricewaterhouseCooper's "Emerging Trends in Real Estate: US and Canada" report, Boston is listed as one of the top five markets to watch in 2020, as it ranks sixth in real GDP per capita and excels in terms of real estate vitality, despite its small metro market. According to PwC's report, these underlying economic characteristics contribute to both multifamily and office space success in the market.