Slow home sales boost rental demand - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Slow home sales boost rental demand

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –   The news may not be great for home sales, but the rental business is booming. Rental companies in South Georgia say they have almost no vacancies, because so many people are having financial problem.

The rental companies we talked with said they have just a handful of homes or duplexes available. Some said they have none. All the companies said it was the economy that had South Georgians looking for places to rent, and said they hear many sad stories everyday.

Larry Walden of Coldwell Banker says his company has 350 rental units, but only five vacancies. And those are some of the most expensive rentals. The economy has many South Georgians scrambling for a place they can afford to live.

 "A lot of people are not qualifying for homes now to purchase. Or have lost their home, or are having to downsize and in that interim shift they are renting houses," Walden said.

Mary Mills at Dolee Rentals says her company sees more people who have been foreclosed than ever.  "When we pull the credit reports we'll see somebody has already had a foreclosure. They come to us because they can't afford that $1,400 a month payment, and they are trying to find something at least $900 or less,"  Mills said.

Mills said unemployment is a major reason they hear from people that they need to find a cheaper place to live. She said everyday they try to help people struggling to find ways to get by. 

"We see a lot doubling up. More families are moving into units, instead of a wife and husband, there will be a child and a mother and a dad, and other family members. A lot of that happens," Mills said.

Almost every rental company we talked with today said they had at least 98% occupancy. That price was a major factor in rentals, and that they hear sad stories of people struggling in these tough economic times almost daily.

"A lot of people have had to make an adjustment in their lifestyle. I moved a lady just this weekend from a $425 to a $350 a month apartment. That's quite inexpensive, but that's just a sign of the times," Walden said.

Rental companies said they can't be happy about their booming business, because so many of their customers are struggling through sad, hard times in their lives. Another thing all the rental companies agreed on, they are not able to raise their prices despite the high demand for rental units.

They say rent prices have stayed the same, because people can't afford an increase in rent. Rental management companies report more people renting homes they can't sell, and moving on looking for work.

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