Housing prices have been rising for years in the Truckee Meadows. And as the pandemic touches nearly every aspect of life as we know it, it’s also affecting rental prices. KUNR’s Bree Zender spoke with Susy Vasquez, the executive director of the Nevada State Apartment Association, which represents rental property owners in the state.
Zender: What kind of effect is the pandemic having on rental prices in general in Nevada?
Vasquez: Rental prices are stabilizing. So the recent report stated that it was decreasing but the rent amounts aren't really decreasing. The growth year over year is slowing down. So in Reno and Sparks specifically, it was down half of a percent. Normally you're seeing, you know, six to seven percent increase year over year. And that has slowed down quite a bit. So while rents remain fairly stable at this point, there has been some slowing as far as rent increases.
Zender: When was the last time there was a stable period of rental prices?
Vasquez: There hasn't been one for quite some time. However, with all of the building and development that's going on in Reno and Sparks, there has been a normalization of the market. So last year and the year before, we definitely saw seasonal adjustments to the market, as far as it relates to rent. And that is primarily based on the number of new units that are coming into the market.
Zender: With these shelter-in-place orders and business closures, if these restrictions continue for another few months and then some with limited openings, do you see rental prices staying stable or rising at any point?
Vasquez: We will see and we are forecasting to see some decrease in rental prices, but it won't be significant. At least that's what the forecast currently shows. However, you may see an increase in concessions. And by concessions, I mean offers to prospective residents for either half a month free, or $500 off, up to a month's free rent to entice new residents to move into communities.
Zender: So when you say decreases, are you referring to open properties or decreases in rent for properties that already have tenants?
Vasquez: People seeking new apartments. We don't forecast existing rent prices to decrease significantly. But we definitely do see a forecast of stabilized rent, as far as no rent increases of significance in the future.
Zender: Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has put a moratorium on evictions. How is that playing out among property owners and managers?
Vasquez: It was something that we were anticipating. We obviously are not in the business of managing vacant units, so we were completely on board with ensuring that our residents maintain housing during this time.
Zender: What’s the association doing to help prevent anyone from illegally evicting or intimidating tenants?
Vasquez: We continue to communicate with our members and ensure that best practices are being implemented. So constant community to ensure that they're communicating with their residents and just maintaining open lines of communication. We obviously support the governor in his direction and we'll continue to do so.
Zender: I’d imagine that would come as a financial consequence to some property managers.
Vasquez: Absolutely. The smaller property owners are definitely feeling it more so than a larger apartment community. However, you have to understand that there's a lot of new construction, so there's a lot of landlords that aren't technically in a position to absorb any losses. However, we are anticipating a significant impact to the community as this progresses and goes on for a longer and longer period.
Zender: You mentioned the expansion of units being available in Reno and Sparks. Is this growth continuing as this pandemic progresses?
Vasquez: Development continues. We will continue to release units that were currently under construction. I don't know the significance of impact to any new developments and whether there's been any type of postponement on proposed projects. But I know that the ones that were currently underway and planned are certainly continuing.