This Summer's Houston Rental Market: Higher Rents, More Demand

Midtown Arbor Place
Summer's typically a busy time for apartment rentals in Houston. But some Houston Realtors say this is one of their busiest. Rents are higher and units aren't staying on the market for long.

In May, Nathan Smith decided to move out of his one-bedroom garage apartment with a loft study. It was right off of Heights Blvd., and he was paying $800 a month.

He posted the apartment on Craigslist for his landlord.

"I would say the next day — if you were to count from when I posted it up and just count my sleep time as zero time at all — I would say, probably, within two hours, I had about twenty people who were genuinely interested."

The posted rent for the apartment was $100 more than his monthly rent. And some were doing whatever they could, Smith says, to get the place.

"You know people were offering bribe money, and paying more rent, without even coming by to see the place."

That's not surprising to Delilah McKenna. She's been a Realtor in the Houston market for more than two decades. She says this summer her office is fielding quadruple the number of calls from last summer. McKenna says certain apartments are really hard to come by.

"A small one bedroom, inside the loop, that's in a newer apartment complex, typically rents for $900, $925, $950. Right now, those are getting anywhere from $1,100 to $1,250 to $1,300."

Latest statistics from Apartment Data Services show nearly 90 percent occupancy rates in the Greater Houston area. Mark Martin edits the industry website Houston Real Estate Observer. He says more people are moving to Houston for work and renting.  One other factor for the rental boost, Martin says, are stricter mortgage lending guidelines that make qualifying tougher.

"So someone that would have ordinarily have bought a traditional single-family home is now either renting a home, condo, townhome or an apartment."

Midtown Arbor PlaceMartin says an especially desirable area is around the Galleria, where there's been a lot of new high-rise construction.  And even high-end complexes, like this $1,800 dollar, one-bedroom, one-study apartment home at Midtown Arbor Place are hard to come by. Desteney Burson works in the apartment's leasing office.

"I have a waitlist for you know November, December. So as units come available during those months,  we can call those folks on our waitlist and go ahead and pick out a home for them and get them into it."

Burson says they've got a whole range of people looking for apartments, from recent college grads to people working in the Medical Center.

"A lot of these people are just coming in and renting an apartment, just unseen.  We’re showing the amenities. We're showing pictures, floorplans — but we're full."

Burson's advise to someone looking: Put down a deposit and secure a place at least two to three months ahead of time.