Rents soar as foreclosure victims, young workers seek housing
LA Times— A nation still struggling to clear up one housing debacle has run smack into another — soaring rents.
The foreclosure mess has pushed millions of former homeowners with tarnished credit into a competitive apartment market across the U.S. Add fresh demand from young workers, few new units and tight standards for home loans, and the result is rental sticker shock not seen in years.
Rents are surging from New York to Los Angeles. The average monthly U.S. rent for apartments hit $1,008 in the first quarter, pushing past the all-time high set in the third quarter of 2008, according to the data firm RealFacts. USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate forecasts a 10% jump in Los Angeles County rents over the next two years. In certain markets, it is now cheaper to own a home than rent.
Menachem Krinsky of Hancock Park recalls how in late 2008 every street seemed ornamented with “for rent” signs when he first moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast. Back then, his landlord was so desperate to keep him as a tenant that he slashed his rent of about $2,000 by $800 after Krinsky’s first roommate bailed on the lease.
These days, however, Krinsky’s search for a one-bedroom apartment costing around $1,500 is shaping up to be a major headache.
“I am looking for something clean and new, and unless you want to spend a fortune, it’s hard,” said Krinsky, a 22-year-old art director and graphic designer.
Units that years ago would have languished for weeks are snapped up in days. The Santa Monica-based listing service Westsiderentals.com is operating 14 hours a day to meet demand from renters. The company has even seen a bump in interest for its “platinum” relocation service, which offers to chauffeur clients to various Southern California listings.
Ellie Balderrama, who lists properties in Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Atwater Village for TheRenterGirl.com, said that as many as 20 people have showed up at some of her open houses. The ones who win arrive with completed rental applications and deposits in hand.