Shrinking stock, rising rents: that is why it is so tough to search out an residence in Lafayette in the mean time | enterprise

Having moved about half a dozen times in her seven years in Lafayette, Jalisa Southall wasn’t thrilled about moving again, but she started looking.

It was early this year when she started visiting other apartment complexes in the area. But every time something funny happened when she found an apartment she liked.

“I went to the leasing office when I went on a tour, started my application process, and when I sat down with him the agent called and said it was sold,” she said. “It was a first-come, first-serve basis. It was quick. “

So she returned to her previous location, Genesis Lafayette, formerly the University Place Apartments. But when it was time to sign a new lease this summer, she got caught in the other vice of the Lafayette rental market: her monthly rent rose to over $ 100 for her two-bedroom apartment.

Not only are available rental units in the Lafayette area incredibly hard to find right now, but rental rates have increased 12% in the past 12 months, a rate above the state and national averages, according to a website that crosses rental rates carries out the country.

Homeowners who spoke for this story said current occupancy rates are higher than ever, leading a landlord to believe that it may be easier to find a home to buy than a home to rent.

It has been since the hurricanes that struck Lake Charles last year sent dozens of people to the area, said Amy Green, property manager at Keaty Real Estate Property Management. The current moratorium on evictions due to the pandemic and the fact that more and more people are moving to Lafayette and demand – much like the real estate market and its flood of buyers thanks to historically low interest rates – are exceeding supply.

“We’ve been taking calls from people who are related across the country,” said Green. “People move to Lafayette for jobs and there is only supply and demand. Owners know that supply is a little limited and demand is still high. They ask for $ 50 or $ 100 more. The tenants don’t blink their eyes because they just need a place to stay. “

However, Southall chose not to complain about their rent increase. She’ll still be paying less than $ 900 a month to live in Genesis, the large complex next to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette that received a facelift from Alpha Capital Partners of Pittsburgh after its purchase two years ago.

“I can’t complain,” she said. “The equipment is nice. It’s very quiet, I say that. When I lived here when I was in college it was pretty noisy. It’s gotten a lot quieter. “

Can’t find a place

With the dwindling number of properties available in their database, Green and the staff were curious: how long would it be for someone to inquire about a property once it was published?

So they timed it. Three minutes thanks to the people who set up notifications on their smartphones. Earlier this month, the number of properties listed by Keaty Real Estate Property Management had dropped to 37. It’s usually around 90, she said.

“These three (and) two bedroom homes are the most in demand properties,” said Green. “There just isn’t enough of it. On the other hand, there are rental properties available. It may not be the ideal rental for that person. I get calls from homeowners looking to rent out their property almost every day, or at least every week. Most are rented 3-5 days after launch. “

Vacancies have fallen since the weeks following the hurricanes that struck the Lake Charles area last year and sent dozens of residents to the Lafayette area, said Jeanie Hijazin, property manager for the Cagan Management Group and secretary of the Acadiana Apartment Association.

The federal moratorium on evictions, which expires on Saturday, could open some properties, but Hijazin and others interviewed for this story say the number of tenants facing eviction for nonpayment would be minimal. Landlords, she noted, are trying to work with tenants and even for those who are evicted after the moratorium is lifted, the process will take weeks to remove someone.

The occupancy rate for four Cagan properties in Lafayette is now 97%, she said.

“I’ve been fed up for about 11 months,” said Hijazin. “I turn people away all the time. As soon as people move out, I’ll have someone ready to move in. I just have to make a phone call. I have so many calls a day it’s crazy. (The moratorium) hurts us because we could have people in here who would actually pay the rent, but we can’t rent to them. I don’t have that many, and I’m grateful for that, but it happens. “

We’ll keep you updated on the Acadiana economy. Register today.

Another company that owns several apartment complexes in Lafayette is currently reporting between 95 and 100% occupancy. Occupancy is in the high 90s at the 192-unit Brook Pointe Apartments in the affordable North Pierce Street development that opened last year, said Josh Haston of LDG Development.

Another reason for the high occupancy is that the pandemic kept people at home and the stimulus money put more money in people’s pockets, said Steven Hebert of Billeaud Companies, a small partner in the Broussard Villa’s 200 units. Apartments.

“The hottest I’ve ever seen, even compared to Post-Katrina,” Hebert said of the rental market. “The available market is extremely scarce. There was a lot of money in the market and not many places to spend it. People’s savings increased and they were spending it on housing. They improved their condition. If they lived with mom, they now live alone or have bought a house. “

The rent goes up

When Alpha Capital Partners bought the University Place Apartments for $ 12.5 million in 2019, it set out to upgrade the aging property next to the University of Louisiana on the Lafayette campus. It added a dog park, upgraded the pool area, added a fire pit, and renovated the clubhouse.

As in Southall’s case, the company that charges by room rather than unit increased rents. The walks, said Marketing Director Lola Soyebo Harris, reflect the value of the updates that have been brought to the complex.

“We are very competitive with the market and try to be aware of that too,” she said. “We try to understand the market and create affordable living space.”

Rental rates have increased 12% in the Lafayette market in the past 12 months, an increase that has exceeded the state and national averages, according to data compiled by Apartment List in its semi-annual report. Rents have increased in each of the last five months over the past five months, and the median rents are $ 1,007 for a one-bedroom unit and $ 1,223 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Many midsize markets, much like Lafayette, reported similar increases, the report showed, with Boise, Idaho leading the way with an average rent increase of 39%. The larger markets, in which average rents had fallen, are now also reporting rent increases.

Remote working has changed where some people live and demand is increasing, said Chris Salviati, housing economist at Apartment List, along with other factors that are keeping demand high.

“I think a lot of it is that the pandemic really messed things up in terms of the dynamics of where people live and whether they live with roommates,” Salviati said. “There are a lot of people who could be potential homebuyers but just can’t find anything or the price has been pushed out of the market. These people stay in the rental market longer, which adds to the crampedness. There is really a lot of mess going on right now, and it will be a few more months before things cool down again. “

Increased costs could also be partly responsible. A Lafayette landlord complained about his inability to find a maintenance worker and even offered almost double what the position normally pays. Candidates, he said, would show interest but not show up for an interview.

“The rent has to go up,” said Hebert. “Every expense a landlord incurs has increased dramatically. Whether you’re hiring a plumber or an air conditioning technician, all costs have gone up across the board. A landlord can only refrain from passing it on for so long. “

The rent increases are not expected to result in a wave of evictions if the moratorium is lifted, but it is unknown what the out-of-state owners are experiencing, said Leigh Rachal, executive director of the Acadiana Regional Coalition for Homelessness and Housing. But the pandemic may shed some light on the lack of adequate affordable housing in the Lafayette area.

Projects are currently under construction, including two developments along Willow Street that will include over 200 residential units and the 217 units planned for the old Garden Plaza Hotel.

A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition said the area had only 49 units of affordable housing for every 100 low-income households in Louisiana, Rachal said.

“We just don’t have the shares,” said Rachal. “Even if they can find a place, they can’t really afford it. As a community, we need to think about how we can invest in more affordable housing. We need to move towards universal housing and think about housing, much like we do with food and medical care. The cost of medical care is much higher when people do not have stable housing, and the cost of education is higher. We eat up the costs as a community somewhere. “

Comments are closed.