Demand for rentals soars in Southwest Florida

Demand for rentals soars in Southwest Florida

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By Josh Salman

The cost of residential rent in Southwest Florida is climbing at one of the fastest rates in the nation, as recession-battered borrowers pushed out of their homes through foreclosure turn to leased apartments for a place to live.

Southwest Florida’s rental market soars

• Nation’s fourth highest occupancy at 96.9 percent in February
• Nation’s sixth-steepest price increase at 6.68 percent
• Average rent of 89 cents per square foot
• More estimated growth of 3 percent annually through 2017

Source: Axiometrics Inc.
From college students to young families and retirees, an influx in new demand for residential leases is now pushing rental occupancies in Sarasota and Manatee counties to well beyond those in powerhouse markets like San Francisco, Manhattan and Chicago.

Coupled with appreciating home prices for buyers, the cost of basic shelter in Southwest Florida is now outpacing wage adjustments for the first time since the housing slump took hold six years ago.

“Anything I have that’s rentable is rented,” said Harvey Vengroff, who operates 1,400 workforce housing rentals in greater Sarasota. “People who work at the mall or in a labor job can’t afford the rents that are out there. That’s the market we’re moving into.”

Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice showed the fourth highest rental demand of all metropolitan statistical areas in the nation, boasting an average occupancy of 96.9 percent during February, according to the apartment data provider Axiometrics Inc.

Only Naples, Nassau, N.Y., and Edison, N.J., had better rental occupancy rates last month.

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