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Central Texas apartment rentals scarce and rising in cost

Central Texas housing experts say rent has risen at least 25 percent in 18 months and most apartment complexes are around 95 percent occupied.

TEMPLE, Texas — The housing market has been soaring over the last couple of months and it's not just impacting people looking to buy a home.

Those renting apartments are feeling the pinch too and have slim options to choose from.

The newest reporter at 6 News, Meredith Haas, starts in early June. She's moving from Philadelphia to Central Texas, but she's been hit with difficulties finding a place to call home.

She started her search a little over a month ago, specifically looking at apartment complexes in Belton, Temple and Waco. Out of the three cities, she found similar results -- limited options as most complexes are full and have a waiting list and also, one bedroom apartments that are outside of her budget.

"The price of an apartment and how high those prices have gotten is deeply concerning to me," she said. "It's like how am I supposed to even start in this big bad world if I'm not even able to get my foot in the door and live."

Haas tells her future colleagues that she is going to have to compromise and budget more every month, as she was expecting to pay maybe $700-800 a month on rent. With her findings, she said she'll probably be paying closer to $1,000 a month.

Barbara Bozon, the executive director of the Central Texas Housing Consortium, told 6 News that her quarterly reports show rent in the area has gone up at least 25 percent in the last 18 months.

She says the supply and demand of apartments is the driving cause of rent increasing.

"Central Texas is obviously growing by leaps and bounds and so there's a demand," Bozon explained. "As the market has changed and shifted, people are starting to rent more instead of being homebuyers, especially with housing prices going up so drastically and there's limited availability. "The houses are selling so quick, so there's more renters out there too."

Taking a closer look into the cost of Temple apartments, according to Apartments.com, as of this month the average apartment rent in Temple is $862 dollars for a studio, $817 dollars for a one bedroom, $947 dollars for two bedrooms and $1,265 dollars for three bedrooms.

"I do feel it's a little bit unfair to renters that some of the prices are going up so drastically but it's supply and demand and unfortunately apartment complexes are able to get those prices because people can't go elsewhere," Bozon added.

The high rent prices leaves soon to be college graduate, Haas, who is about to start her first job stunned. She told 6 News as she is searching for apartments in Central Texas from Philadelphia, she has found rent prices posted on the internet as misleading.

"The information I found regarding a rental, or many different rental properties, or the specific room itself, didn't match up to what I was calling in for," she explained. "I'd call in for a property and the price put on the website was less than what was given to me by the manager I spoke with on the phone."

Haas said not only are rent prices problematic but so is the limited availability. Many properties didn't have units available for months out or she had to be added to a "waitlist."

"They didn't tell me where I was on this waiting list," Haas said. "I didn't know where I would be or if I would be called."

Bozon says a lot of apartments in the Temple area are staying around 95 percent occupied, with very few exceptions.

Some advice from Bozon to Central Texans looking for an apartment to rent includes do your research about properties, and also maybe consider compromising on features or amenities, otherwise you'll be paying the price.

"Maybe you don't need all the bells and whistles necessarily, so you can maybe look for something that's a little bit more affordable," she said.

It's been a hard but eye-opening experience for Haas but she's learned a lot. She recommends contacting properties and keeping in communication. but more importantly start your search sooner rather than later.

"Putting myself out there, putting myself on the list and doing things way ahead of time has given me some breathing room." Haas said.

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