Housing market rebounding but rental properties booming

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Residential construction is up across the country, a hopeful sign for the housing market, but not everyone is looking to buy. Thanks to a rough economy and poor housing market over the past five years, many are looking to rental properties.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that while there is an abundance of unsold homes, the market for rentals right now is keeping construction workers busy while the housing market finds its footing. In the past year, apartment complexes like Willow Creek and The Villas have opened in Jonesboro. SaDonna Hildebrand with Stadium Place Apartments in Jonesboro said financially, people feel better about renting.

"People are not wanting to commit to a lifelong thing that might put them in a situation that they can't get out of. So renting something gives them an option," Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand manages the apartment complex and said their units don't stay open very long.

"We fill them pretty quickly, and that's the thing, if someone moves out there's always someone else waiting in line to rent," she said.

In part, Hildebrand feels that people are more comfortable with the idea of renting than becoming a homeowner. Other times, families just have a difficult time taking on the mortgage and upkeep of a home.

"So that puts a lot of families in need of a place where they can pay their rent and not have to worry about other things," Hildebrand said.

Those reasons are exactly why Vietnam Veteran, Jerry Smith decided to rent.

"I'm financially fairly able now... but it'd strap me," Smith said. He's only lived in his new apartment for less than a week. He said he's been a homeowner before but it just makes more sense for him now to be a renter.

"It's just so much easier to have someone else cut my grass and do that stuff for me, I don't need to do that stuff anymore," he said.

Jerry said it's a "win-win" for him as apartments often offer amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers and more.

Hildebrand told Region 8 News that renters really enjoy those extras and having a maintenance person on hand to take care of things for them. She also said the sense of community is important for renters.

"We have a lot of good people that live here. People watch out for each other and get to know their neighbors," Hildebrand said.

The Commerce Department also reported that building permits, that gauge future construction, fell from a 3½ year high. That drop is due in part to a 23% drop in apartment construction. However, permits for single family homes rose almost 2 percent, further suggesting that the housing market is slowly, but surely, rebounding.

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