The South region’s rent growth leader in April was a small market on Florida’s Gulf Coast, where apartment prices surged. Average effective asking rents increased 2.5% in North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton in April. This was one of the best monthly showings the market has seen in over a decade and one of the biggest upturns nationwide. Located just an hour north, the significantly bigger Tampa apartment market saw similar April rent growth of 2.3%. Recent growth in North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton pushed the market’s annual price increase to 6.9%, the strongest annual showing in five years. Back in 2014 through mid-2016, annual rent growth in North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton was averaging closer to 8%. When the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the job market, annual rent cuts were initiated starting in April 2020 but never got deeper than 3% before rebounding relatively quickly. As of April 2021, average rents in North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton are some of the most expensive among Florida’s smaller markets. In fact, with monthly prices of $1,406, rents here are roughly $36 more than the rates in nearby Tampa.