Austin rates high in renter satisfaction despite price increases

Matthew Adams

Austin is ranked fourth in the nation for highest overall renter satisfaction, according to a survey conducted by the apartment real estate website Apartment List.

However, with Austin’s high demand in the rental market, prices are expected to increase. According to KVUE in January 2015, the average rental cost in Austin will increase by 4.5 percent by the end of the year. With the increase, the average monthly rent will be $1,185.

In late May, Apartment List released the survey results, which showed Austin ranked fourth in satisfaction and 10th in amount of renters planning to switch to home ownership, with 71 percent of Austin renters saying they are looking to buy a permanent home.

Andrew Tam, vice president of data science for Apartment List, said the data were based on 18,000 users responses out of the one million site users to whom they sent the survey.

In this survey, Tam said the group wanted to add to the national conversation of home ownership while also bringing attention to the rental market.  

“Home ownership in America has been on steady decline and at this point, Americans are owning homes at the lowest rate in more than 20 years,” Tam said. “Correspondently, people are renting at the highest rate. There is not a lot of focus placed on what do renters want, are renters happy, are people renting for new types of reason[s].”

Tam said the group looked at factors such as local economy and future homeownership, but the main factor is to understand how satisfied the renter needs to be for cities to continue growing.

Tam said the factors they were not expecting to see were higher satisfaction in expensive cities because of a good local economy and access to recreation.

“Our takeaway was that people who choose to live in cities, they are looking for great job opportunities and robust social opportunities,” Tam said.

Austin is ranked in the top 25 for both confidence in the local economy and access to recreation.

Sociology junior Libby Hollan said with prices increasing she is concerned with affordability following graduation.

“The areas where I would like to live — Central Austin, North-Central Austin and South Congress — are very expensive,” Hollan said.  “The price of rent may push new UT graduates out of Austin.”  

Sam Njigua, a real estate agent for West Campus Living, said students are excited to be in Austin but the prices are not as affordable as they should be.

As prices have increased in Austin, Njigua said leases have consistently risen by about $50 to $100 each year.

Although not all students would consider living in a dorm, Njigua said owners of complexes must be careful to not out-price students and force them back to campus living.

“Basically, dorm life is about $1,000 dollars a month including food,” Njigua said. “[Students] are trying to stay within the same hold, or even a little less from about $900-$950 with utilities included.”