Local rents dip with economic decline


LAFAYETTE, La. (The Daily Advertiser) – A national company says Lafayette renters are paying less than last year for their apartments.

Apartment List, based in San Francisco, said rent payments declined by 3.8 percent in the city of Lafayette, 2.6 percent in the parish, since February 2016.

That sounds about right to the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, which follows apartment vacancies, and the Acadiana Apartment Association, which is composed of apartment communities and their vendors.

Andrew Woo, a researcher for Apartment List, says the company draws data nationally from millions of listings for one- and two-bedroom apartments across the country. Its February report says rents are up 1.8 percent nationally, year over year, but about flat over the last eight months.

Rent growth in 2016 was slower than in the previous two years, Woo said.

Northwest rents were great for rental companies, Woo said. Tacoma, Vancouver and Spokane, Washington and Boise, Idaho all enjoyed increases of more than 4.5 percent.

Woo also said rentals in suburbs outside major cities, such as Arlington, Texas, outside Dallas have seen robust growth in rental fees.

Lafayette, on the other hand, experienced a decline.

Stacey Zawacki, a spokeswoman for LEDA, said early 2016 numbers showed an 8.8 percent vacancy rate, the highest vacancy since 2000 and about double Lafayette’s apartment vacancy rate over the past decade.

That jibes with what Acadiana Apartment Association numbers reflect. Rates have been down based on higher vacancy likely based on Lafayette’s struggling economy. Also, apartment complexes have been motivated to offer deeper “move-in” discounts.

With declines in employment — metro Lafayette showed steeper job losses than anywhere else in the U.S. last year — many renters have left the market or are “doubling up” as roommates.

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