Renters' Delusion Could Sabotage Any Apartment Hunt

Photo: Jojo Whilden/ HBO

Most big-city dwellers know at least one renter who’s managed to defy the odds of apartment hunting: landing a rent-stabilised, no-fee apartment in a killer location for about half as much as most people spend. Perhaps we can blame that lucky individual for inspiring such widespread delusion among renters in the U.S.

According to data complied by, renters in some cities are demanding prices that the market just can’t deliver. 

For example, an average one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn is listed at $3,041, yet most renters search for spaces less than half that rate.  Jersey City renters were off by about 47 per cent in their searchers, followed by renters in Oakland, Calif. and Boston, Mass. 

There were some standouts, however. Renters are actually most realistic about rent in cities like Green Bay, Wisc. (-1.27 per cent) and Fresno, Calif. (-1.20 per cent). 

We’re not saying it’s impossible to find a great apartment at a steal, but these are most often the exceptions, not the rule. As for why it’s important to be knowledgeable about actual market rates for the location you’re scouting, vice president Dick Burke lays it out. 

“If a would-be renter goes into their search with unrealistically high average rent expectations, they could end up over-paying in the market. By the same token, if they base their moving decision on unrealistically low rent expectations, they could be wasting valuable time searching for something that doesn’t exist, as well as setting themselves up for disappointment, or worse yet, getting into a long-term lease that isn’t fiscally responsible.”

Maybe it’s time to think about house hunting instead?

Here are the markets where renters are seriously underestimating the cost of rent: 


Brooklyn, NY         



Jersey City, NJ     



Oakland, CA           



Boston, MA          



New York, NY      



Denver, CO        



Los Angeles, CA      



Fort Lauderdale, FL 



San Francisco, CA    



North Hollywood, CA  


Here are the markets with the most realistic renters. They searched for rent within 1.5 per cent of the actual rate:


Green Bay, WI



Fresno, CA



Staten Island, NY

– .84%


Marietta, GA



Richmond, VA



Arlington, TX



Cleveland, OH



Tucson, AZ



Albuquerque, NM



Mesa, AZ


  See Also: The hottest rental markets in NYC now >

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