Survey Finds Fewer Obstacles to Getting an Apartment Here – But It’ll Cost You, Another Study Says
With builders seemingly falling over one another to bring new multi-unit residential properties on line in Philadelphia, it maybe should not come as much of a surprise that would-be renters face less competition in finding apartments than in all but two of the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas.
According to data in a report released last Wednesday by Trulia.com, this is because relatively few would-be tenants here fall into the category landlords desire the most: renters with excellent credit and high incomes, the group Trulia calls “Rich and Reliable.”
Trulia’s data, drawn from apartment-seekers who filled out the site’s online “Rental Resume” questionnaire, showed that only 15.7 percent of Philadelphia renters had excellent credit (FICO scores between 720 and 850) and only 7.8 percent had household incomes above $100,000 per year. (For comparison purposes, 16 percent of renters in 9th-ranked Los Angeles make more than that.) Philadelphia’s share of high-income renters was the third lowest among the 25 metros.
Add to these a 3.5 percent vacancy rate for rental properties — a higher vacancy rate than in any other metro save Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario, Calif. — and you get a market where even renters Trulia classifies as “middle of the road” (annual income between $50,000 and $100,000 and FICO scores between 650 and 720) should be able to find apartments without much difficulty.
However, Trulia recommends that renters give landlords as much information as they can up front when contacting them about available apartments. Based on the hypothetical candidate profiles it created for its study “What Landlords Want,” it found that apartment-seekers who filled out the online questionnaire completely and sent the landlord a personal message were more likely to hear back from a landlord than those who did not regardless of where they stood on the income-and-credit scale (though, of course, those who scored higher on those scales were even more likely to hear back from a landlord than those who scored lower).
One big factor that gave would-be tenants a leg up in getting landlords’ attention: being ready to move. Those who indicated they were looking to move into an apartment in a week’s time were more likely to hear back from a landlord than those whose timeframe was 30 days out. A second boost: a second tenant. Applications indicating two people were seeking to rent an apartment also drew landlords’ attention quicker.
Apartment-seekers starting their search now, however, may find that they will have to pay more in rent for the apartment they land. According to a survey of rents nationwide conducted by the apartment search site Abodo, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia, derived from the site’s data on apartments available for rent, jumped 7 percent from August to September, the third-highest rate of increase in the country. Adobo’s data show that a one-bedroom apartment that would have cost $1,291 a month on average here in August will now set you back $1,379.
“Philadelphia, specifically, is following a trend that analysts and industry experts have seen in bigger, rapidly growing cities,” said Abodo Senior Communications Manager Sam Radbil. “In cities with a large number of young adults who can’t afford to buy a home or don’t want the hassle of owning one, rental units are in extremely high demand. This group of renters, along with retiring Baby Boomers who are downsizing and moving into apartments in metro areas, are driving the demand for apartments. With more demand and a limited supply, landlords are incentivized to raise rent prices.”
This in spite of a steady stream of new rental apartment projects coming on line.
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