Apartment Managers Mostly Optimistic about Their Industry

Chicago--A TransUnion survey finds that both small- and large-property apartment managers agreed that finding residents is not difficult in the current economic climate.

Chicago–A new TransUnion survey has found that both small- and large-property apartment managers resoundingly agreed that finding residents is not difficult in the current economic climate. A little more than 68 percent of small-property managers said it was not, while nearly 57 percent of large-property managers thought so. A majority in both categories said that, compared with this time last year (the survey was done in June), obtaining qualified renters was no more or less difficult now.

TransUnion’s 2011 Rental Survey asked more than 1,250 property managers nationwide their opinions on the rental market. The survey respondents included mostly managers of small properties (200 or fewer units), but also managers of large properties (more than 200 units).

Most small-property managers didn’t see an increase in rents over the last 12 months–just 35.5 percent said so, while 51.8 percent said rents were about the same. By contrast, large-property managers seemed to be reaping the benefits of rental increases since mid-2010, with 64 percent reporting that trend for their properties.

One driver for rental property demand has reportedly been foreclosed households. Among large-property managers, about half have seen an increase in applicants moving to rental units from foreclosed properties over the last 12 months, while a slightly smaller number (46.6 percent) of small-property managers said that.

Looking ahead, the survey found that 70 percent of small-property managers are expecting vacancies to be about the same in mid-2012 as now, while 22 percent are expecting lower vacancies. Large-property managers were more optimistic in this regard, with 38 percent expecting lower vacancies and 52 percent expecting them to be roughly the same.

“We have found that both large- and small-property managers are having more success locating reliable residents compared to the last two years,” Steve Roe, vice president in TransUnion’s Rental Screening Business Unit, tells MHN. “It appears large property managers also have had more success in raising rents, as they may be willing to hold out longer for the right tenant.”

However, he continues, “it should be noted that while rental prices have increased, they are still not near peak levels observed in 2007. It’s also important to note that there are regional differences.”

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