MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For many tenants in Memphis and the Mid-South, the days of rent discounts and pandemic pricing are a thing of the past. The cost of renting in the Memphis area is beginning to soar in what’s being called a red-hot market.
According to the real estate website Realpage Incorporated, since the start of the pandemic in March of last year, the median cost of an apartment increased from $923 dollars to $1,082 a month.
That’s a 17.2% increase, making Memphis the 13th fastest rising rental market in the nation.
Cassandra Bell-Warren, the president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, says there aren’t a lot of houses to sell and inflation is causing prices to rise.
“There are not a lot of houses to sell as realtors so what’s happening is sellers are selling their property and they can’t find anything right now and maybe they’re having to rent an apartment or a house until they can find the house that they’re looking for,” she said. “Prices are rising just due to the inflation part. We see the inflation at the gas pump, we see the inflation at the grocery store, we see it at the restaurants and part of that is supply chain.”
But some worry the increased rental prices could put the squeeze on many low-income families looking to rent.
It’s a problem that Cindy Ettingoff, the president and general Counsel for Memphis Area Legal Services, doesn’t seen ending anytime soon.
“The problem is if you could afford to pay your rent before if you had lost a job and couldn’t obtain subsequent housing and subsequent employment and absent a job you won’t be able to sustain anything you were able move into. So, we’re creating a crisis again,” she said.
It’s why Ettingoff and Bell-Warren recommend families do their homework to see what they can really afford as rent prices rise.
“Examine your finances is the first question if you can get a job, and keep job and if you’re getting childcare benefit that’s bringing dollars in,” Ettingoff said.
“Make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. So, you’ve done your inspection of the property and things like make sure you’re doing it within your means and not outside your means,” Bell-Warren said.
Even though Memphis is still considered an affordable city, the national median rent also rose to $1,300 in September. That’s up 15% from a year ago.