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The median rent is increasing quicker this spring than last spring in the nation's largest markets, yet in 25 of these 35 markets, rent prices actually dropped in May in comparison to recent highs, Zillow's data show.

Explains Zillow economic research director Aaron Terrazas, context is key. The national median rent data from last spring, "represented the nadir of an almost two-year long slowdown from annual rental growth of more than 6 percent that began in summer 2015." Rental appreciation has grown since spring 2017, and has held steady between one and three percent, which Terrazas considers sustainable long-term growth. Many of the largest markets are also seeing prices evening out as new supply comes online.

Nationwide, median rent rose 2.1 percent year-over-year in May, to a Zillow Rent Index of $1,440 per month. In May 2017, rent grew at just a 0.7 percent annual pace – one-third the current rate. Among the 35 largest markets covered by Zillow, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Houston reported the greatest jump in annual rent growth this spring compared to last. Median rent in all three of these metros was falling at this time last year, but is now appreciating more than 1 percent annually (though still well below the national pace of rent appreciation).

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