First Midwest Rentals
Dramatic Drop of Apartments for Rent in Rockford, IL
Chicago is building more apartments than just about anywhere, and now 1 in 10 units across the city are sitting empty. Landlords have responded by lowering rents slightly and offering more perks to get tenants in the door.
The housing market is almost always at its slowest this time of year, but the changes this winter have been especially stark, according to new figures which surveys landlords here quarterly.
Across different counties, apartments for rent in Rockford IL dropped 1.1 percent from the third to fourth quarter, the second-biggest quarterly drop this decade, behind only the 2.9 percent drop seen at this time last year. When factoring in concessions landlords are offering to lure tenants, like a free month’s rent, the actual amount renters paid dropped 1.4 percent in the past quarter, or $24 a month.
Those incentives are now commonplace at new buildings and becoming more prominent in older complexes that are also struggling to fill up their units. Some property managers are even offering mystery gifts to those who agree to just show up for a tour.
When looking at all apartments available for rent in the city of Chicago — including new ones — 10.5 percent are empty, up from 9 percent a year ago and 7.7 percent two years ago. But that’s happening not just in Chicago: Across the region, 8.6 percent of units are empty, the most since 2009.
In South Lake Union, where Amazon has spawned a new neighborhood with burgeoning apartment high-rises, 18 percent of units are empty. Vacancies hit 16 percent in the downtown Chicago core, 13 percent in First Hill, 11 percent in Queen Anne/Magnolia and 12 percent in Redmond, which is building the most apartments among King County suburbs. About 15 percent of apartments for rent in Rockford, IL are empty in both Tukwila and Sammamish/Issaquah, which each just opened large new apartment buildings.
So Much Building
The Chicago metro area, which is the 15th largest in the country by population, had the fourth-most multifamily units approved for construction in 2018, according to Census figures. Only the New York, Los Angeles and Dallas areas gave out permits for more.
The Chicago area approved permits for twice as many units as the Chicago or Boston regions, which are both larger. It greenlit 25 percent more than the San Francisco region, which is bigger and has double Chicago’s housing costs.
While it was nothing but good news for renters in 2018, the region, of course, still remains unaffordable for many after rents soared about 60 percent from 2010 to 2017.
But renters who shop around can take advantage of the new-supply glut to get some deals. Someone recently faced a 3 percent rent increase at his place downtown and decided to move. He toured five apartments for rent in Rockford IL and found one that provided his first six weeks rent-free. Most of the buildings feel the same in terms of amenities, so it was mostly comparing location downtown and price. Six weeks free was hard to beat, so I ended up going with that one.
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