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Florian Martin

Feb 23, 2022, 7:00am EST

After several years of moderate growth and a pandemic-caused dip in 2020, Montgomery County’s apartment market saw explosive growth last year, according to Houston-based ApartmentData.com.

Average monthly rent jumped by $203 year over year to $1,350 in December, an 18.9% increase compared to a year earlier. That’s four times higher growth than in 2017, when Montgomery County’s average rent grew by $51 after dropping in 2016 as a result of the oil downturn.

Among the county’s main submarkets, average rent grew from $1,195 to $1,415 in The Woodlands between December 2020 and December 2021, from $1,118 to $1,264 in Kingwood and from $970 to $1,183 in Conroe.

The strong rent growth in Montgomery County is more pronounced than that of the whole Houston region, which saw average rents increase by $145 last year to $1,188 per month.

Part of the reason is that the vast majority of apartments in Montgomery County are newer, higher-quality apartments. Of a total 143 properties representing 36,145 units, 109 properties representing 29,609 units are Class A and B apartment buildings that were built after 2000. For Class A apartments, average rent increased by 19.5% to $1,560 per month.

Houston overall, on the other hand, has a lot of product built in the 1970s and ’80, which has a downward effect on the average rent, said Bruce McClenny, president of ApartmentData.com.

Average Class A rent for the Houston market overall was $1,675 in December.

Suburbs such as The Woodlands, Katy and Sugar Land have all seen strong rent growth as more people are moving there.

“Any of these suburban areas on the outskirts of the city of Houston, they have tended to do well,” McClenny said.

Rent growth in Fort Bend County, for example, was 18.5% last year. Brazoria County rents grew 15.5%.

Apartment occupancy has been above 90% in Montgomery County since mid-2021 and is now 92.2%, above the overall Houston-area rate of 91.5%.

Activity is especially strong in the Conroe/Montgomery market, which had 1,465 new apartments coming online recently, compared to 805 in Kingwood/Lake Houston and 184 in The Woodlands area.

“Conroe is further out,” McClenny said, “And (just like in) the single-family industry, ‘you keep driving ‘til you qualify.’ The further you get out from an area, the rents and the home prices tend to be lower.”

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