March 22 (UPI) -- Rent prices in the United States are rising at their fastest level in 21 months, according to a survey by Zillow.
The survey found that the median rent rose 2.8 percent over the past year to $1,445 per month.
The fastest rates occurred along the West Coast in Sacramento, Calif., Riverside, Calif., and Seattle.
Sacramento saw the fastest rent rise with 8 percent since last February for an average of $1,849 per month.
Home purchases have also suffered due to higher mortgage rates, leading to more people opting to rent instead of buy.
."Rental appreciation slowed between 2015 and mid-2017, but is once again picking up steam, reaccelerating over the past nine months," said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. "For-sale inventory is tight, and with home prices continuing their rapid climb, it's becoming more and more difficult for renters to become owners, forcing them to rent longer than they otherwise would have. Searching for the 'right' home has become a drawn out affair and rising prices require more savings for a down payment. Were it not for strong new apartment construction over the past half-decade, rental appreciation would be even stronger than it is now."
According to CNBC, apartment occupancy around the country was at 95 percent by the end of 2017 and is expected to increase.
"The country's apartment market remains tight, with product availability generally limited to recently completed properties moving through initial leasing," said Greg Willett, chief economist at RealPage. "Unless a renter can afford that expensive new stock, finding a ready-to-lease unit takes some real work in most locations."
For those looking to get out of the rental market and into a home of their own, the market is more difficult than a year ago. Zillow says that there are 10 percent fewer homes to choose from compared to last year, with San Jose, Calif., Columbus, Ohio and Las Vegas experiencing the sharpest decline in available homes.
San Jose saw a 27 percent decline in available homes over the past year. Columbus and Las Vegas each saw a 24 percent decline.