As it turns out, the conventional wisdom surrounding the best time to rent is on the money.
Across the 10 largest metropolitan areas nationwide, apartments were on average 3.9% cheaper to rent in the winter as compared with the more competitive summer months, according to a study released Monday by real-estate website RentHop.
From peak to trough, one-bedroom apartments are between 2.4% and 5.4% cheaper in the winter, while two-bedroom units are between 2.3% and 5.8% more affordable. In dollar figures, that equates to between a $37 and $171 per month savings for one-bedroom rentals and between $36 and $191 for two-bedrooms.
“The ‘best’ months to rent are between December and March,” RentHop wrote. “Conversely, the ‘worst’ months are between May and October (during the summer).” This relationship generally held for all cities that the site looked at, and applied to both 1 and 2-bedroom apartment units.
Meanwhile, the influx of college students at the end of summer proved to have a bigger effect on pricing difference between then and winter in cities with more universities.
These factors particularly play out in Boston — which has the fourth largest student population nationwide thanks to schools like Harvard, MIT and Boston University. Rental prices there jumped from August through November — the start of the school year — and then dipped sharply during the frigid months of January and February.
Meanwhile, sunny Los Angeles and Miami saw less pronounced swings in prices. Still though, the monthly cost to rent a one-bedroom in L.A. tanks by more than 2.5% in November on average, while rent for a two-bedroom is cheapest in December in Miami.
And the cheaper prices that crop up that time of year can be a strong bargaining chip when negotiating lease terms, experts say.