Apartments in the Columbus area are in high demand, but renters can find many listings in the downtown area, where most complexes have special offers.
A dispatch poll of 16 of the newest downtown apartment complexes found that 14 offer incentives to get tenants out, from $ 100 off parking to three months of free rental on long-term leases.
Other offers include a free scooter, $ 500 Visa card, and short term rentals.
Between 9% and 10% of downtown homes are empty, more than double the total home vacancy rate of about 4% in central Ohio, said Rob Vogt, managing partner of Vogt Strategic Insights, the Columbus-based real estate research firm.
“The highest vacancy rates are currently in downtown, there is no question about that,” said Vogt. “That’s because of the pandemic and all of the products that are coming online.”
1,000 downtown apartments added
A wave of new complexes added about 1,000 homes to downtown just before or at the start of the pandemic, just as downtown housing demand dried up, as offices and restaurants closed, and protests raised safety concerns.
When the landlords tried to fill them, others kept coming.
“Now almost 1,900 units are under construction,” said Vogt. “That seems to me to be the biggest problem with rental incentives. You have a ton of nervous developers worried about renting out their projects. Some of the reasons for this are the pandemic, but there are also big concerns about all of the new products. “Coming online.”
Despite the offers, downtown isn’t a bargain for renters: rents in downtown and the surrounding area averaged $ 1,450 per month, well above the region’s average of around $ 980, Vogt said.
Free monthly rents and other promotions are common when complexes open, and Vogt and others warn: Downtown apartment hunters shouldn’t expect the deals to last forever.
“While the incentives were pretty significant earlier this year, we’re seeing them end gradually,” said Vogt. “Two months of free are now free or canceled for one month. We believe that many of the incentives will dry up once demand catches up with supply.”
Some complexes have already reduced their incentives from last year when the rental practically stopped.
Industry Columbus on East Long Street offered two free monthly rentals shortly after it opened last summer, but is now offering one. In June the Atlas Apartments in Long and High Street offered three months free of charge, but now one month free.
Another complex, The Pierce, which just opened at the start of the pandemic, offered two free monthly rentals last summer but is now reduced to one, said Adam Trautner, vice president of the complex’s developer, Stonehenge Co.
“We were pretty stable, but not busy and rented here and there last year,” said Trautner. “But when the vaccine came in and the schools started announcing their return and the restrictions started lifting, we definitely saw a significant increase in traffic.”
The complex is now full, but still offers a monthly rent for some apartments, which are expected to be available in September, said Trautner.
Last year, the View on Grant complex offered four free months’ rent – upfront – to new tenants. That was reduced to three in July and two in August.
“Last year slowed down a lot, but this year as COVID restrictions end, it’s really picking up,” said Patrick Blattner, senior property manager at the Mount Vernon Avenue complex, which Blattner says is now 95% rented.
The complex also has free lime scooters in some offerings, one of several twists that complexes offer on top of the traditional free monthly rental.
The new apartment building 150 N. Third St. waives the administration fee for new tenants and reduced garage parking fees and also offers two free months with a 12-month rent.
Highpoint on Columbus Commons, on South High Street, is offering a $ 500 Visa card in addition to other incentives.
Despite the slow return to the city center and new competition, developers are confident that the worst for the downtown rental market is over.
“We know how hard the downtown market has been hit by the pandemic, and we’re excited to announce that our occupancy is increasing and our properties are thriving,” said Kaileigh Pickett, director of marketing and community engagement at development firm Borror who built and managed the 303 and Xander on State apartment complexes.
“We hope that the downtown community continues to grow and leave the industry-wide struggles of 2020 behind us.”
Downtown Offers *
• 150 North Third Street – Two free monthly rents with a 12-month lease plus waived administration fee and reduced parking fees
• 303, 303 S. Front St. – two months free with a 14-month rent
• Atlas, 8 E. Long St. – one month free with a 13-month rental period plus reimbursement of registration and administration fees
• Heaviness, 500 W. Broad St. – up to $ 1,500 off when you move in in August
• Harlow on the Main, 195 E. Main St. – one month free rent and flexible rental terms
• Peak on Columbus Commons, 190 S. High St. – $ 500 off first month rent plus $ 500 Visa card plus credit waived security deposit
• Industry Columbus, 230 E. Long St. – one month free rental
• LC RiverSouth, 205 S. High St. – $ 100 off parking
• Library park, 409 E. Oak St. – Up to two months’ rent free
• Santa Claus, 12 W. Gay St. – 1 month free rent with 13 months rent
• Normandy Columbus, 315 E. Long St. – three months of free rent for a studio or a 1-room apartment with a 16- or 18-month rent
• The pierce, 321 E. Capital St. – one month free with a 13 month rent
• Show on Grant, 350 Mount Vernon Ave. – two months free with a 14-month lease or free Lime electric scooter
• Xander on State, 265 E. State St. – One month’s rent free with 13 months’ rent
* Information from apartment websites or landlords as of July 27th. Some offers expire on July 31st and some have restrictions. Check with apartment complexes for details.