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How landlords and tenants are reacting to a changing rental market

Matt Levin Apr 9, 2024
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Nationally, about 1 in 3 rental listings on Zillow offer concessions, like a month of free rent or parking. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

How landlords and tenants are reacting to a changing rental market

Matt Levin Apr 9, 2024
Heard on:
Nationally, about 1 in 3 rental listings on Zillow offer concessions, like a month of free rent or parking. Brandon Bell/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The investment firm Blackstone announced it would pay $10 billion to acquire AIR Communities on Monday. AIR, as in Apartment Income REIT Corp.

Blackstone is now set to be the new landlord for 76 luxury apartment complexes in some of the highest-priced markets in the country, including Miami, Los Angeles and Boston.

That $10 billion price tag was viewed as a sign of life for the rental housing market, which has seen rents drop and vacancies rise the past couple years.

As an apartment broker in Austin, Texas, Garrett Dominey helps out-of-towners find higher-end apartments and helps landlords find out-of-town renters.

Back when every Tesla worker and their mother was moving to Texas, he used to have a lot of success posting apartment ads to Craigslist.

“You’ll get a hit maybe even within the day. Now it’s weeks, a month,” he said.

The pandemic-era mass migration to Texas is ebbing. But Austin renters also have more options now.

A glut of newly constructed apartment buildings in the city has sent rents down 7% year over year, and landlords are getting more creative with their marketing.

“We see gift cards,” Dominey said. “You get, like, a $2,000 Amex gift card if you sign within 48 hours.”

Caitlin Sugrue Walter, vice president of research at the National Multifamily Housing Council, said she’s also starting to see a return for concessions.

“Several years ago, that was not the case,” she said.

Nationally, about 1 in 3 rental listings on Zillow offer concessions, like a month of free rent or parking. Those enticements are way up in construction-friendly Sun Belt cities.

Because of the pandemic, a bunch of new developments are now on the same timeline, Walter said.

“Two properties are across from each other. One may have been originally slated to open in 2023, one in 2024. Now they’re both opening in 2024, so they’re competing for the same folks,” she said.

Record numbers of new apartments coming on line have led to a 1% drop in the national median rent, said economist Chris Salviati at the rental data site Apartment List. But those new apartments tend to serve higher-income clientele.

“That does impact the full market, but it has less of a direct impact on kind of those lower-price properties,” he said.

In other words, lower-income renters aren’t likely to get as much of a discount — let alone a $2,000 gift card.

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