With the eviction moratorium extended through the end of March and the supply of apartments at a near all-time low, demand has increased rent prices in northern Nevada by 5.4% over the last year.
A recent report released by the Nevada State Apartment Association (NSAA) found that the asking price for an apartment in the Reno-Sparks area averages around $1,328. This is below the national average of nearly $1,400, which makes Reno alluring for people who now work at home in places with higher housing costs like the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Portland.
Meanwhile, vacancies have decreased in northern Nevada. “Vacancy is low for the area,” explained Suzy Vasquez, executive director of the Nevada State Apartment Association. “And that’s what’s pushing rents up.”
While only about 700 units broke ground in 2020, compared to the average of 1,800 in the four years prior, Vasquez said there are just over 1,800 units currently under construction. She expects them to be available this year, however, this does little to address the sheer lack of affordable housing in Reno. Statewide, there are currently some 9,200 vacant apartments.
The NSAA report noted that the pandemic and concurrent economic recession “did impact the market, most notably causing rents to fall in March.” But as demand accelerated throughout last year, prices rebounded and ended 2020 with nearly 6% growth.
As more and more people in large urban centers across the nation work from home indefinitely, they are seeking places like Reno where rent is cheaper.
“I mean, there’s a steady stream coming in,” explained Vasquez. “It will definitely impact rent prices, if the supply stays the same.”
“Developers want to bring more units to Reno,” explained Vasquez, “and the city council from both Sparks and Reno are open to developing further.” While local lawmakers are ostensibly onboard, she mentioned there is valid pushback from community members who do not want to see the regional population grow.
Vasquez said that landlords have only sought eviction for people who did not communicate their need for assistance, applied for assistance knowing they were ineligible, or quit paying rent all together while still working.
“The evictions that we were filing were mainly on bad actors. There were people that had the means to pay rent and chose not to,” said Vasquez. “They continue to work throughout the pandemic, which had little to no impact on their lives, and just were refusing to pay rent. Those are the ones that we focused on first and foremost.”
Vasquez said landlords are not in the business of eviction. She’s uncertain about the effect of the eviction moratorium on prices but believes demand from outside the region will continue into the next few years. She said the region will not likely see the 14% rent increases of 2017 and 2018, but she expects prices to steadily rise in coming years.
“That’s simply because of (limited) supply and the people that are moving here, still thinking it’s cheap to live in Reno,” Vasquez said.
Richard Bednarski is a freelance photo journalist and graduate journalism student at UNR. He focuses on crafting solutions and advocacy-based stories that move the community forward. Support his work in the Ally.