GSN NEWS STAFF

Rents across the metropolitan area have increased over the past year, but nowhere in the region are they higher overall than in Gilbert, a new report shows.

Renters of two-bedroom apartments in Gilbert are paying a monthly median price of $1,410. For a one-bedroom, it’s $1,130.

Just over a one-month period, according to the report, Gilbert experienced median rent growth of 1.1 percent, the fastest in the metro area.

And rents there have gone up 3.9 percent since last year, the third-highest increase in the Valley, behind Peoria’s 4.6 percent and Chandler’s 4.2 percent.

But Chandler’s monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment ($1,320) still lags not only behind Gilbert’s but three West Valley cities. For a one-bedroom apartment, only Gilbert topped Goodyear, Peoria and Chandler in that order, with the latter city at $1,060.

A major reason for higher rents in places like Gilbert is that newer suburban cities can offer more for a renter’s money.

“You may be comparing two-bedroom apartments to two-bedroom apartments between Phoenix and Gilbert or Scottsdale and Gilbert,” said Keith Gaertner, associate broker at RE/MAX Excalibur realty, “but new outer suburban communities can offer larger, newer, nicer units – which is why (landlords) can charge more.”

Phoenix had the lowest median rents in the area at $1,030 for a two-bedroom apartment and $830 for a one-bedroom.

Yet the report lists average rent in Phoenix’s upscale-leaning Ahwatukee Foothills as $1,200. It doesn’t show a breakdown of one- and two-bedroom prices in the neighborhood.

The bad news for apartment hunters in Mesa is that rents have increased 3.7 percent in the last year, the fourth-highest jump among cities in the area.

However, Mesa’s rents are second-lowest to Phoenix’s. For a two-bedroom in Mesa, the report shows the monthly median at $1,060, and for a one-bedroom, $850.

The statistics were released by City Guide Phoenix, an analysis of rents from Apartment List – an online U.S. apartment-rental marketplace based in San Francisco. Apartment List, using census date and its own massive listings base, assesses rents in metro areas across the United States.

To put metro Phoenix rents in perspective nationally, median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco – the second most expensive U.S. city in which to live outside of New York – was $3,060.

“Even the highest rents in the Phoenix area are low compared to those in many other big cities,” said Chris Salviati, Apartment List’s housing economist.

Gilbert’s median rent increased over the past year by more than twice the national average of 1.5 percent, Salviati noted.

None of this means that more expensive apartments can’t be found in Phoenix, Scottsdale or even Tempe than in Gilbert, he said. What it means is that Gilbert, for its size, has more expensive inventory overall.

Scottsdale rents went up 2.5 percent this year over last, and the report listed two-bedroom units at $1,280 and one-bedroom at $1030.

Tempe rents increased 3.1 percent over the year, with median two-bedroom rent at $1,140 a month and one-bedroom at $910.

Another crucial point about prices is that “bigger cities (like Phoenix) have far more (blighted) areas than newer, suburban communities, and the apartments in those areas drive down their median rents,” Salviati said.

Added Gaertner: “Yeah, you can probably find a much cheaper rental in Phoenix or Mesa than in Gilbert. But would you want to live in that neighborhood?”