Columbia’s growth has spurred an increase in rental units
Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
As Columbia has grown in the last three years, the number of apartments available to rent has also increased to fit the needs of the population.
Between 2006 and 2009, Columbia’s population increased from 93,863 to 102,324 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
At the same time the number of apartment complexes increased from 50 to 57 and the number of units from 5,000 to 7,141, according to a September 2009 survey conducted by Moore and Shryock, real estate appraisers and consultants.
In 2006, the total vacancy rate of Columbia apartments was 4.08 percent, according to the survey. In 2009, it was 5.27 percent.
Despite an addition of 2,141 units, the vacancy rate shows a gap of just over 1 percent. That indicates just how tight the Columbia rental market has been in recent years.
Renting, by the numbers
Columbia’s population increased from 93,863 to 102,324.
The number of apartment complexes
increased from 50 to 57 and the number of units from 5,000 to 7,141.
The total vacancy rate of Columbia apartments
increased from 4.08 percent to 5.27 percent.
2009 vacancy rate:
The northeast sector of Columbia had the highest — 12.37 percent. Of 1,544 units, 191 were vacant.
Source: U.S. Census, 2009 survey by Moore and Shryock, real estate appraisers and consultants
Renters and landlords both say that apartments near campus fill up faster than apartments across town.
According to the survey, the northeast sector of Columbia had the highest vacancy rate in 2009 — 12.37 percent. Of 1,544 units, 191 were vacant.
Closer to campus, the rate fell to 1.6 percent in the southwest corner of town. Of 1,126 units, 18 were vacant. Downtown apartments may be older but still might be more expensive than newer ones that are farther away from campus. Renters say they are valued because of the location.
“I pay as much per month as someone who rents a house farther away from campus,” said MU student Anne Christnovich, who lives in the Dumas Apartments on Hitt Street.
Another strategy to getting the perfect apartment is planning ahead. Good apartments fill up fast and may never hit the market, property managers said.
At River Birch Apartments on Clover Way off Providence Road, apartments are rarely available. Someone will rent a unit before the current renter has left, Twila Woods-Buford, the property manager, said.
“Generally speaking we pre-lease our apartments,” Woods-Buford said. “Pre-leasing is when it isn’t technically available yet, but the renter is sure to get the apartment when the current renter’s contract is up.”
Harriet Strickland, property manager of Courtyard Apartments on West Ash Street, said, “Once we run, out we run out. People don’t realize they have to start looking in May for the (next) school year.”
Students make up the majority of renters in Columbia, both property managers said.
At Courtyard Apartments, 60 percent of tenants are graduate and undergraduate students.
At River Birch Apartments, Woods-Buford estimated that two-thirds of the renters are students.
“Students are the best renters,” she said.
Anyone who wants to rent has to have both patience and luck.
“It’s all timing in this town,” Woods-Buford said.