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Searching for a rental as prices rise … and rise

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New housing stands at Canal Crossing, a luxury apartment community consisting of 393 rental units near the university city of New Haven on August 2, 2017 in Hamden,

Because of Spokane, Washington's hot rental market, sales representative Kali Capps opted for an apartment out of her price range because “it was the absolute only option that we had,” she said. Spencer Platt via Getty Images

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When Kali Capps, a sales representative for a bathroom remodeling company in Spokane Valley, Washington, learned that her rental home was being sold, she started scouring the internet in search of an affordable place to live. 

“It’s like a full-time job,” she said. “I was on all the rental websites: Facebook, Craigslist, and then, of course, Zillow and Apartments.com, all of them.” 

In Spokane’s hot rental market, Capps said the key was not just finding a suitable rental but finding one “first.”

“You have to be the first one to apply, first to see it, you have to be very active online and refreshing your page constantly … because the line is so long,” she said. 

Driven in part by an influx of new people moving to less populated areas during the pandemic and low inventory of homes for sale, Spokane County’s apartment vacancy rate fell to a historic low this summer.  

After weeks of searching, Capps said she finally got approved for a rental that would work for her, her teenage son and two dogs.

It was 20% more expensive than her previous rental and 50% more than what she paid for rent less than a year ago. She took it anyway.

“I’m paying $1,600 a month, which is out of my price range quite honestly, but it was the absolute only option that we had,” she said.

Rental prices are rising “virtually everywhere,” according to an analysis by Apartment List, but smaller cities including Boise, Idaho and Spokane, Washington have seen some of the most growth. 

Capps said she was “shocked” at how much the rental market changed since she first moved to the region six years ago. 

“One of the reasons why I moved out of California was to go to a place where I could be a single mom and raise a son, and not have to struggle check to check,” she said. “[There’s] been such a spike in the cost of rentals that I’m not even sure how I’m going to make it.”

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