HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – Houstonians leased a record number of single-family homes in September, as the Hurricane Harvey’s damages prompted an 86 percent increase in rental activity.
With an estimated 70,000 homes suffering damage from the storm, many homeowners were left with no choice, but to seek shelter in rental housing.
In the aftermath of the storm, which made landfall Aug. 25, housing was leased at a pace never seen before, reports the Houston Association of Realtors.
Some 4,233 single-family homes were rented in September, up from 2,305 in the normalcy of September of 2016, HAR reports. It was the most monthly rental activity in Houston real estate history.
And 982 townhouses and condominium units were leased, up 92 percent from the 511 rentals in the category in September of last year, according to HAR stats.
Leasing in apartment complexes was also incredibly strong.
“I have spoken with a developer whose 90 percent occupied Class A multifamily property in Katy, jumped to 100 percent occupancy overnight,” says Teresa Lowery, Senior Managing Director, multifamily, in the Houston office of Colliers International.
In addition to displaced homeowners waiting for repairs or rebuilding, rental housing demand also spiked as insurance adjusters, FEMA employees and construction people, rented dwellings.
The rental market tightened even further because of hurricane damage to apartment communities. The damage estimates vary, but some multifamily analysts report more than 40,000 apartment units were flooded.
Before the storm, Houston multifamily had pockets of softness. Some landlords were offering as much as three months of free rent. Those incentives disappeared as soon as Harvey hit Houston.
The apartment market became healthy overnight.
Harvey effectively accelerated the multifamily recovery timeline, propelling Houston into a landlord-favored market 18 months ahead of schedule,” says Robert Kramp, director of research & analysis at CBRE. “The spike in occupancy driven by Harvey is expected to stay. In addition, a majority of rental concessions expired. A subdued development pipeline along with sustained recovery-driven demand is expected to pull down vacancy.”
Citywide, apartment rents jumped 1.5 percent, CBRE reports.
HAR reported the average rent for single-family homes was up 7.9 percent to $1886 while the average rent for townhomes/condominiums climbed 5.4 percent to $1,601.
Hurricane Harvey, an unusual Category 4 storm, stayed almost stationary for days and poured 50 inches of rain on Houston.