The demand for rental housing in Tooele County outstrips available supply, while price remains an obstacle for some that seek housing.
“The rental market is still very strong,” said Sandy Critchlow, an agent with Tooele Prudential Utah Real Estate, who manages multiple rental units. “Give me a new, well-managed and maintained apartment complex, and I will fill it up in no time.”
Vacancies are low and empty units rent in less than a month, according to Critchlow. Rental prices vary according to location, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and other amenities, she said.
“A top of the line home in Stansbury can rent for as much as $1,300 per month while a two-bedroom, one bath apartment may rent for $650 a month,” said Critchlow. “In the middle you can find a three bedroom home for $950 a month.”
But for Jack Walters, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 2013 has been a rough year for his 43 rental units.
“I’ve had more vacancies than last year. The demand is still out there for apartments, but people don’t have the money,” he said.
Walters has lowered the rent on some of his rentals from $650 to $600 to make them more affordable.
“The economy is still hurting a lot of people,” he said. “They don’t have cash and their credit is poor.”
Critchlow agrees that more affordable housing is needed in the county. “We have low income families that need housing,” she said.
At $600 a month for a two-bedroom apartment, a household would need an annual income of $24,000 to afford the monthly rent, using Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines of spending 30 percent of annual income on housing.
While the county’s median household income of $63,228 is well above $24,000, there are 2,491 households in Tooele County that earn $24,000 or less according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Despite the efforts of landlords like Walters, HUD reports indicate that as the demand for rentals has increased the market price for rentals in Tooele County has also increased.
Each year HUD calculates a fair market value for rental units in Tooele County.
In 2013 the HUD fair market value for a three bedroom unit in Tooele County was $979 per month. The proposed HUD fair market value rate for 2014 is $990 per month and the 2012 HUD fair market value for a rental was $873 per month.
While two years ago homeowners turned out of their homes by short sales, and foreclosures were snatching up rental homes, Critchlow is seeing a new trend in renters in 2013.
“We have some renters that are new to town and want to rent for a while and check things out before they buy,” she said. “We are also seeing younger people, including families with young children that don’t want to be tied down by a mortgage or the responsibilities of home ownership.”
The demand for rental units, including apartments, has not gone unnoticed by builders.
Settlement Canyon Apartments, a new 85-unit complex built in 2011 with two- and three-bedroom units on Tooele’s southwest side, was the first apartment complex constructed in Tooele in eight years, according to Tooele City’s building department.
Castlewood Development, a Salt Lake City-based developer, is currently building a 132-unit upscale apartment complex in the Overlake area. Castlewood expects to be leasing before the end of the year.
Castlewood’s investment may be timely, according to Critchlow.
“The rental market is here and we are really strapped for good apartments,” she said.