To get an idea of how hard it is to find an apartment in Reno or Sparks, just take a look at concessions.
Apartment communities historically offer concessions, such as a free month's rent, to lure in new tenants. In the first quarter of 2012, for example, more than 71 percent of apartment communities in the region offered concessions for new tenants.
In the first quarter of 2018, however, just 4 percent of apartment communities in the greater Reno-Sparks area still offered concessions. According to apartment market data compiled by Johnson Perkins Griffin Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants.
Apartment rents continue to escalate due to incredibly low vacancy - 1.58 percent overall at the end of the second quarter, Johnson Perkins Griffin reports.
Apartment developers are capitalizing on the strong market demographics that make penciling out new construction a no-brainer. There currently are more than 3,000 apartment units under construction in the region, with twice as many new doors waiting in the wings.
There are more than 6,000 additional apartment units planned, and there are multiple landowners preparing to sell additional parcels to developers. Planned projects include new apartment communities at Park Lane (1,619 units), the Lakes at Sky Vista in Lemmon Valley (768 units), Vista Rafael Apartments (416 units) and Oakmont Properties' project at Double R Boulevard and Technology Way (440 units).
Units range in size from 820 to 1,504 square feet, with rents averaging between $1,500 and $2,500 a month - higher than the market average. According to the latest second-quarter market report, average rents in South Reno in the second quarter were $1,353, and average rental rates for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment were $1,754. (By way of comparison, that same 3/2 unit rented for an average of $1,132 a decade earlier.)
Gigi Chisel, vice president of Lewis Management Corp., says that multifamily developers aren't just capitalizing on the region's pressing need for new apartments - they still trying to catch up from several years of little or no growth.
"We clearly had a significant trough during the downturn, coupled with very high unemployment and economic distress, but we still had population growth and we didn't have any apartment construction," she says. "When the market started to improve and the economy started to get better, we were already in a hole because of the downturn. It has taken some time to ramp up construction in our area, but it is my belief that we just right now have completed filling the backlog we should have built if we had not had the economic downturn."