Renting in Charlottesville
Here at Solutions we often get asked about rentals in the Charlottesville area. While many rental listings never make it into our local MLS, there are ways to find them.
Two such resources for apartment rentals are: https://www.apartmentlist.com/
Word of mouth, as well as checking out bulletin boards at UVA and on the Corner, might seem old-fashioned, but often rental gems are only found this way. Always ask friends for referrals or if they might pass the word for you.
If you’re new to the area, a great place to start is at the local coffee shops, the brac.com website mentioned before or by contacting area property managers. Many are listed online as well.
With all the new construction going on along the West Main Street corridor it might seem odd that it appears there are hardly any apartments available for rent – how do people find out about them? You can always look on the websites for our local daily newspaper, The Daily Progress, and our weekly paper, Cville Weekly, as they are fairly up to date with listings.
While the days of splitting a $1200 monthly rent amongst five people might seem long over, there are still deals to be had in Charlottesville, although this is harder if you’re only looking for a one-bedroom place and don’t want a housemate.
Why is finding a good rental so difficult?
According to an article in the Dec. 9, 2015, issue of The Washington Post, last year in America, “the median asking rent for a newly built apartment was an astonishing $1,372 a month. That’s about 50 percent more than the typical rent nationwide. It marked a dramatic rise from what brand-new apartments were renting for just a few years ago.
Although one might expect this of larger cities like Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco, it appears that Charlottesville isn’t immune as several rentals on the market list the same kinds of amenities those in larger cities have come to expect like terrace top gardens, complete with a bar area, extra storage, garages, full gyms, and other perks like movie theaters, conference rooms and swimming pools.
People from households making, say, $45,000 a year, hardly have a chance of being able to afford the rents being charged.
According to the same article, “Over the last decade we’ve gained 9 million new renter households in America, thanks to demographic shifts and a falling homeowner rate. That’s the largest increase in renters, according to the Harvard report, of any 10-year stretch on record. “And the growth is coming from every demographic — including, most notably, the wealthy. The number of renter households in the top 10th of the income spectrum rose 61 percent over that decade, more than for any other group. So developers are not simply building luxe apartments no one wants to rent.”
Developers vs. fair rent
Many in the Charlottesville area freely acknowledge it’s difficult to find affordable housing here. It’s economically challenging for developers to create new apartments the median renter could afford — at about $875 a month — while covering the costs of constructing them.
“Height limits, parking requirements and zoning restrictions all push up the cost of construction,” the article continues. “So do lengthy design reviews and legal battles with neighborhoods opposed to new development. Developers must also build at the densities communities allow, and in the limited places where they allow higher density. And if a given parcel of land is only zoned for about five stories of apartments, those apartments may have to command $2,500 a month each to make the project profitable.”
Take a drive along West Main Street, along Elliot Avenue, to the Allied Business Park or out Fifth Street, or look at the local news, and you will see the creative ways developers have come up with to sell their high density projects to a Charlottesville populous that doesn’t exactly want to change the character of the city in favor of making it more like D.C. and less like the sleepy college town it once was known for all around the country.
Renting vs. Buying
The choice between buying or renting a home is one of the biggest financial decisions that many people can make. The costs of buying are more varied and complicated than for renting, making it hard to tell which is a better deal.
To help you answer this question, The New York Times renting vs. buying calculator takes the most important costs associated with buying a house and computes the equivalent monthly rent.
If you’re interested in checking it out, here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/
“This chart, from a report on America’s rental housing from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, illustrates that only about 10 percent of our recently added rental apartments would be affordable to the nearly half of renter households in America who make less than $35,000 a year. Note: Rents based on 30% of income affordability standard. Sources: US Census Bureau, 2015 Survey of Market Absorption, 2015 CPS. Harvard JCHS.”