Online Apartment Finder Reports Spike in Traffic

ForRent.com and its affiliate sites (including CorporateHousing.com and SeniorOutlook.com) report a 65 percent increase in traffic during August 2010 compared with the same month in 2009, according to the company, which specializes in providing information to apartment seekers.

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Norvolk, Va.–ForRent.com and its affiliate sites (including CorporateHousing.com and SeniorOutlook.com) report a 65 percent increase in traffic during August 2010 compared with the same month in 2009, according to the company, which specializes in providing information to apartment seekers. This finding matches other recent reports, in particular by the National Multi-Housing Council, that characterize demand for apartments as increasing nationwide.

The spike in visits to ForRent.com, a division of Norfolk, Va.-based Dominion Enterprises, comes at a time when the apartment rental market typically sees a seasonal decline. Other factors are at work in buoying the market, and thus overriding seasonal factors, according to Terry Slattery, president of For Rent Media Solutions (the parent company of ForRent.com and the others). “90 percent of the top apartment markets in the nation experienced demand growth as leasing activity improved during the first half of 2010,” he said in a statement.

The decline in home ownership is driving more consumers to an apartment living lifestyle, Slattery notes. In August, For Rent Media Solutions clients saw a year-over-year increase in total leads by 35 percent.

The most recent quarterly survey conducted by the NMHC offers clues about what’s driving this kind of demand, and the fact that many people have lost their homes since the onset of the Great Recession is only part of the equation. A deeper shift seems to be under way, one that has longer-term implications for the apartment business. Namely, the NMHC report identified a shift in consumer mentality toward short-term rental agreements and away from long-term mortgage debt, as the prospect of homeownership now spooks more people than it used to.

Moreover, the NMHC report found that its Market Tightness Index, standing at 83 as of July 2010, was as tight as it has been in four years. Since a reading of 50 for the index means that, on balance, apartment markets nationwide are getting tighter, such a high number indicates an upswing in demand. And a sudden upswing at that, since as recently as January 2010, the organization’s Market Tightness Index was as low as 38, and in July 2009, it was 20.