Austin apartment complexes fill to 95 percent


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist JOHN GIBSON

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on May 5, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Updated Monday, May 7 at 9:50 AM

AUSTIN, TX -- The Capitol City is quickly becoming "the city" to live in. ranked Austin as the “Fastest Growing City in America” for the second year in a row, partly because of a healthy job market.

That’s something Smith Scarborough knows all about. He was hired to work in Austin this past Friday, and now comes the hard part.

"Living in Houston right now. Job starts Wednesday, and I need to find a place in Austin," a frantic Scarborough said Saturday afternoon.

He started his apartment hunt at 7:30 in the morning. Hours later, he turned to A+ Apartment Locators for help. Manager Natalie Young sympathizes. She says finding an apartment is challenging.

"It's a lot of people in Austin who need to move. A lot of their rents are going up, so they're still looking to try and stay in a certain price range if they're moving. And then, of course, relocations are really high right now," Young explained.

According to Austin Investor Interests LLC, Austin apartments are 95 percent full. In the first quarter of 2012, only 94 new apartment units were added, and that means higher rent. The average is $899 a month.

Young says rent is even higher the closer you move to downtown Austin. Still, it’s a price many are willing to pay for Austin.

"You can walk into a place that may not fit your budget, and there's someone right after you who's going to walk in and lease it," said Young.

"It's steep, but I mean, Austin is a cool city, so I feel like it's to be expected," said Scarborough.

There is good news. Several complexes are set to open next spring and summer. Ideally, that will bring rent prices down. Still it may just be a temporary fix.

"We don't think it will affect us like it has in the past few years because we just don't have enough new inventory,” Young said. “Right now what we are getting we need just to be able to meet the demand."

Renters will have to adjust to smaller spaces. Austin Investors Interests LLC is reporting that the new trend hitting the apartment market is smaller spaces. New complexes are building units 100 to 200 square feet smaller than units built in the 2000s, with more open floor plans. This fits more units into a high rise.

Still, Scarborough is keeping his fingers crossed that he'll find a place in time, competing with thousands of others who are looking to call Austin home.