High housing demand trickling down to rental properties in McLean County

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 4:54 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - For a landlord, the current rental market is a boon.

There’s plenty of demand to go around, but the problem comes in finding the supply to fit a prospective renter’s needs.

“You’ll post [properties] online or put signs up in the yard and you’ll get dozens of applicants in the same day,” Ryan Curtis of McLean County Area Landlords Association said.

Renters trying to find a place to live wouldn’t describe the market in the same way. For first-time residential renter Trissa Shawgo, she called her search “hectic, chaotic,” and overall “stressful.”

It’s a symptom of the intense housing market that is gripping McLean County. As potential homebuyers submit dozens and dozens of offers for houses that come up short, they may give up and settle for renting instead.

However, as big businesses like Rivian, State Farm and others draw people into town and student renters return to campus it brings the housing rat race into the rental market. Those looking to rent have to spend hours scouring websites for an open place and strike lucky timing to secure it.

“There was a house that was posted and within 15 minutes I had messaged [the seller] asking for the lease,” Shawgo said. “Someone had already beat me to it.”

Shawgo eventually did find a new place, but it took lots of digging. Her single bedroom apartment costs over a thousand dollars a month, even before utilities. She said she makes the cost work, because lower rent could have meant living in a bad neighborhood.

The rising cost isn’t exclusive to her experience, apartments across the area are rising in price. Rising electric, water and other utility costs, combined with increased demand are driving rent up. Though Curtis and MALA said that rents are actually beginning to match their actual value.

“Properties that were renting for $500 are renting for $700 or $800, which is quite the jump for a lot of people,” Curtis said. “The consensus is that’s where we should have been all along.”

He believes the housing frenzy isn’t cooling down anytime soon. For renters, options are limited. They can either buy more property to rent, which is already difficult to come by, or build new property. That’s a tall task for smaller landlord operations.

“With that you either have to buy what’s out there and that doesn’t necessarily create supply, or you have to build,” Curtis said. “Building is a feat generally for more established landlords, smaller mom or pop operations typically don’t build properties.”

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