National rental prices start to fall - not the case in Knoxville

Even though the price of rentals have begun falling nationally, experts say that doesn’t mean Knoxville is next.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 11:20 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - For the first time in more than a year-and-a-half, the average rent across America went down, but East Tennessee may not see that same trend anytime soon.

It’s no secret that the price to rent an apartment in Knoxville has been rising, causing pain in people’s pockets.

“If you go anywhere in Knoxville, there’s no place to go because everybody’s waitlisted, the costs are really high,” said Michelle, who was living in Knoxville with a rent that jumped nearly 40% in a year.

A report out by showed that the average price of a rental property in America dropped 0.1% from July to August - a small number, however it’s the first time the average rental price fell in 20 months.

“Occupancy is still really, exceedingly high,” said Hancen Sale, the government and police director for the Knoxville Association of Realtors. “We’re hovering between 98% and 99%.”

Sale said a healthy market is typically between 94% and 95%. He said it’s as simple as the demand out-pacing the supply.

He also said there were several projects that are under construction in the area, but he said it’s still not going to be enough to really solve the problem.

Even though the price of rentals hbegan falling nationally, Sale said that doesn’t mean Knoxville is next. He said demand here is still high, and the decline in rent prices is happening mostly in bigger cities.

But there is a silver lining. “They have peaked in the sense that they’re not growing as quickly as they were in the first half of this year,” said Sale.

Don’t expect rental prices to make a complete reversal. Sale said between more jobs, and more people moving to the area, he’s expecting a strong demand in the market for the next decade. That’s creating a dilemma for people like Michelle.

“I’m basically backed in a corner,” she said. “If I don’t take this, I have to move as far away as I possibly can. Away from work, away from friends and family.”