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Rents stop climbing at Reno-area apartments

By John Seelmeyer

Apartment rents in the Reno area appeared to have stopped rising during April, the first full month that business ground to a near-halt because of COVID-19.

Apartment List, a publication for renters, estimates that the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment in the Reno-Sparks area stood at $1,171 during April, exactly the same as a month earlier. 

In the past year, the analysis estimated rents in the area have risen by 0.7 percent, half of the 1.4 percent average increase in apartment rents across the United States. 

A few weeks ago, a separate analysis by Apartment List found that the Reno area’s high dependence on tourism and hospitality jobs puts the region at particularly high risk from pandemic-related shutdowns.

Rents in Southern Nevada — which is even more dependent on tourism — actually appear to have declined during April, Apartment List researchers found.  The 1 percent decline estimated for the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson was the most significant softening of any of the 100 largest cities tracked by Apartment List researchers.

While its figures are based on estimates, rather than on-the-ground reporting, the Apartment List report is among the earliest data to show the economic effects of the shutdown in Reno during a full month.

Johnson-Perkins-Griffin Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants of Reno, which actually surveys managers of big apartment complexes four times a year, says in its most recent report that rents may fall, vacancies may become more widespread and concessions such as free rent or move-in allowances may become more common as fallout from COVID-19 ripples through the economy.

At the end of March — when the pandemic’s effects were just beginning to be felt — Johnson-Perkins estimated that the average rent for all types of apartments in the Reno area stood at $1,341, up by $17 from the end of last year. Vacancies averaged 3.5 percent across the region’s big complexes.

Vacancies in Reno’s downtown area had risen sharply and stood at 7.25 percent — perhaps reflecting effects of the closure of the UNR campus in mid-March.

The COVID-19 slowdown comes at a time that thousands of new apartment units have been built to meet the demands of a growing economy.

Johnson-Perkins says the 93 big complexes it surveyed during the first quarter of this year represent 23,694 apartment units.  Two years earlier, the quarterly survey included 86 complexes and 21,497 apartments — nearly 2,200 fewer than today.

Former residents of California’s Central Valley appear to account for many of the new tenants.

An analysis by Apartment List finds that the Sacramento and Stockton areas account for a third of the renters who were recently looking to move to Reno and Sparks.  Current renters in the area who are looking to move on, on the other hand, most commonly hope to relocate to Las Vegas. 

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