Apartment rates dropping for some coast properties

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In the days and months following Hurricane Katrina, rental rates shot up across the coast.  But, now, more than three years later, that could be changing.

"All rents are down. All occupancies are down," Vicki Evans with Grande View Apartments in Biloxi said.

The economy, job layoffs and an increasing apartment supply are just some of the factors driving rates down.

"We've had to reduce rates to get people in because they can rent houses for the same prices as apartments," Evans said.

In her weekly calls to other properties, Evans said some rates have dropped by about 25 percent. Her property and Oak Grove Apartments, a sister property, are no different.

"One bedroom apartments that are going for $850 a month are now going for $695," Evans said.

"They know that everybody is hurting with their occupancy and they can say, 'What are you going to do for me?'" Evans said.

Those renewing leases also have some bargaining power as many rental properties make their money off the people who stay.

"They have that negotiation ability to be able to come in and say, 'Listen, I'm paying $1000 a month for my apartment. My next door neighbor is only paying $800. What can you do for me?  I've been here,'" Evans said.

Even with lower rates, the equation properties use to determine if a person can rent the unit still leaves some unable to move in.

"You've got a three bedroom apartment that's $1000 a month. You've got to be able to put somebody in there that can gross $3000 a month. And if you've got someone who's working their butt off for $8 an hour, they're not going to make that $3000 a month."

Though rates might not be back to pre-Katrina levels, Evans said there's one factor that could be helping them inch closer.

"I'd much rather be collecting some money on that rent than having it sit vacant."