For a month now, Ray Holt has been looking for a 3 bedroom apartment for himself, his two sons and their service dog in the St. George area.
He looked at around 12 different apartments and paid an application fee for several of them, which he says is starting to add up. He is a Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation and he believes the reason he hasn’t found a place is simple: His salary isn’t enough to cope with the challenges. high prices.
“I try not to be downcast and discouraged, but sometimes you can’t help but get to this; you have to keep moving forward, ”Holt said.
Veronica Trotter-Wadsworth had similar problems finding a spot. She recently moved from Olympia, Washington, and is staying in an Airbnb rental as she searches for a more permanent place to rent. The 53-year-old substitute teacher said she was looking for a place to live on her own given her age. But she struggles to find a place without roommates.
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She thinks it has to do with the wages in the area.
“The influx of people coming here is affecting housing prices, so hopefully wages will go up. People have to have roommates because the wages are so low, ”she said. “I wouldn’t have the same problem in Washington.”
It’s a shared story in sunny St. George, where rents keep rising and apartment seekers like Holt and Trotter-Wadsworth find that the area’s expensive housing market is only getting bigger. Dear.
Asking rental rates jumped again in the first half of 2019, according to a mid-year report from NAI Excel, a commercial real estate company in the region.
The report found that the average asking rent was $ 1.10 per square foot, or $ 1,064 per month for a typical multi-family unit, up significantly from previous years. Vacancy rates edged up to 2.3% after hovering around 1% for years.
Rising vacancy rates
Neil Walter, CEO of NAI, said it would be good if vacancy rates continued to rise in the region.
“The reason the vacancy rates were so low is that we had no multi-family buildings and no new offerings,” said Walter. “We were in dire need of inventory. With new construction, we’ll see vacancy rates rise, and that’s not a bad thing.
Relative to other markets, Washington County’s vacancy rates are a bit lower – Las Vegas is at 5.8% and northern Utah at 5.9%.
The report predicted that this would be the busiest year for multi-family residential construction in the county in more than a decade. Three multi-family projects were completed last year: Grayhawk Apartments, The Retreat at Sky Mountain and student housing at 605 Place. There are five other multi-family buildings under construction.
Despite these new developments, Walter said he doesn’t expect house and rental prices to drop in the future.
With more city regulations and expensive materials entering new developments, the price is unlikely to drop. In addition, he said that it is very difficult to stop the growth of the area.
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“Over the next 20 to 30 years, our community will continue to grow… and with this increased demand for housing, it will drive up house prices,” Walter said. “The other way isn’t quite as pretty, we can have house prices going down and a place people don’t want to live in, but I wouldn’t vote for that.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to reflect the fact that vacancy rates for multi-family dwellings in the St. George area are lower than in neighboring metropolitan areas.
Lexi Peery is an environmental and political reporter for The Spectrum & Daily News, a newsroom for the USA TODAY Network based in southern Utah. You can reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @LexiFP. And if you want to support and perpetuate this work, consider registering today.