Milwaukee had the largest average rent increase in the nation from June to July with the price of one-bedroom apartments increasing 15 percent, according to a new study.
The study, from ABODO, a Madison-based online apartment search firm, also found the demand for apartments in Milwaukee has gone up. The vacancy rate dropped from 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 4.1 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to the study.
“What we’re seeing is Milwaukee is becoming a mini-Chicago,” said Sam Radbil, senior communications manager with ABODO. “People are moving to Milwaukee from Chicago and it is no longer a downgrade like people had historically thought.”
One Milwaukee developer took exception with the study.
"We’re definitely not raising our rents 15 percent," said Tim Gokhman, director of New Land Enterprises, who is currently developing Trio in Walkers Point and has also developed the Jefferson Block Apartments, The London House and Row House 31.
"With our new projects like Trio, we’re striving to provide a high-quality, high-tech building at very competitive price points," Gokhman said.
The average price for a one-bedroom apartment in Milwaukee was $880 per month in June, according to the study. The price increased to $1,010 in July, according to the study, which looked at more than 1 million class A, B and C properties across the country.
Columbus, Ohio had the second largest rent increase at 13 percent, with the average one-bedroom apartment priced at $857 in July. Colorado Springs ranked third with an 11 percent increase and one-bedroom apartments renting at $859 a month.
Rents went down 11 percent in Oakland, Calf, but are still one of the most expensive in the country. For a one-bedroom apartment, you’ll pay an average price of $3,400 in July.
Robert Monnat, partner and chief operating officer with Mandel Group, said looking at the company's year-over-year rental rate increases, he does not believe Milwaukee is number one nationwide by a long shot.
"The rental growth on the coasts has been at least twice our rate for some time," Monnat said.
ABODO’s client base is typically millennials looking for inexpensive apartments.
Radbil said the Milwaukee increase is due to the changing skyline.
“I grew up in Milwaukee and lived through the Marquette Interchange construction, but never once did I see a change in the skyline like I’m seeing now,” he said. “People are starting to see what Milwaukee has to offer. Unique restaurants and bars, a rich cultural scene and actual development. That is why the rents are going up.”