Austin apartment renters face price hikes, research shows

Nick Hadjigeorge

The cost of renting an apartment in Austin has increased 10.1 percent over the last six months, according to a report by the rental property research group Axiometrics Inc.

The rent increase resulted from a combination of factors, said Ronald Johnsey, president of Axiometrics. Approximately 13,500 jobs were created in Austin between July 2010 and July 2011, and the supply of housing can’t keep up with the demand.

The 10.1-percent growth rate is considerably higher than the national average of 5.36 percent and is the largest rate increase in Texas since 2009, according to the report.

“[These are] incredible rates compared to other parts of the country,” Johnsey said. “The government, University and high tech industry make Austin a very attractive place for people to live and work.”

The research group forecasts high growth rates for the next few years, but they also predict the rate of increase in Austin may slow to 7.1 percent in 2012.

David Mintz, vice president of government affairs for the Texas Apartment Association, said that in addition to new job creation, rental property owners are finding this a good time to raise rents and make up for some of the lost revenue of recent years.

“[There was] a long period of time when the market wasn’t allowing for rent increases. At this point in time it is more favorable to do that,” Mintz said. “[There is] a lot of demand without a lot of new product.”

Members of the UT community who live off campus are not immune to the market-based rent increases the way dorm residents are, and higher prices are not going unnoticed.

Neurobiology senior John Luke Irwin said that his apartment rent recently increased and hopes that the increasing rates won’t affect his rent any more than it already has.

“My realtor justified the increase based on the low supply of apartments in Austin,” Irwin said. “It’s understandable, but I wish it would stop. [Austin] needs more apartments.”

Julia Michaels, the Project Vote Smart coordinator at UT’s Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation, said her rent increased this year for a different reason.

“My landlord’s justification was that utility prices are going up, but it makes sense that there is higher demand [for apartments] with the high population growth of Austin.”

Printed on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 as: High demand, short supply raise Austin apartment rents.