Property rental prices climb out of reach for middle class in ar - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Property rental prices climb out of reach for middle class in areas of New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS (WUVE) - As the New Orleans rental market tightens, prices climb fast. In some areas, realtors say, many middle class families find rent is rising out of reach.

"It's a fierce rental market," said New Orleans Realtor Katie Witry.

Witry said many New Orleans listings will be rented within days.

"I had a property on Palmer Avenue go up, it was $2,500, a 3 bedroom 2 bath rental. I put it up on a Thursday, that Friday I had ten couples look at it. I had two applications."

As New Orleans draws more industry and the infrastructure strengthens, Witry said, the demand for rental properties shoots up along with price.

"Half of your shotgun double used to be about 700 per side. Then it's gone up to $1,000. Now it's hard to find anything less than $1,200."

"It's a lot of money to spend on a monthly basis," said renter Mark Paterson.

Paterson is lucky to pay just $1,300 per month in the French Quarter. He sees much higher rental rates all around him.

"If you move into the Marigny or the Bywater, they're paying just as much there. It's crazy. People are paying sometimes even more," said Paterson.

In some areas, Witry said, it's cheaper to buy than rent.

"How do we keep it an affordable city? Because even though rents have increased, where most people are renting, they can't afford to buy in those neighborhoods, so now they're having to go to other neighborhoods to actually buy, so that's pushing people out of certain neighborhoods," Witry said.

She said, for example, "you're not renting in the CBD for less than $1,500."

Renter Mandy Walsh is looking for a fix-er-upper to buy.

"We're looking at the Marigny, St. Roch type neighborhoods then out in Mid City," Walsh said. "I think right now it's easier to buy and have a cost of living that's cheaper than renting. Our rent is fairly expensive, and what we've noticed with mortgages is that your monthly payments would be lower."

Though many people can't live in their first choice neighborhood, Witry said the high rental market pushes people to buy and restore houses in areas they wouldn't normally have considered, which helps the city's blight problem.

"We really have an opportunity to restore a lot of our housing stock," Witry said.

Any higher though, and Witry said prices will start to eat at the city's rich mixed income culture, which is a reason, she says, many people want to move here in the first place.

According to Zillow.com, a real estate website, nationally, renters are spending more of their income on rent than they have in 30 years: an average of 30% of their household income.

In New Orleans, Zillow.com says the average renter spends 35% of their income on rent. According to this New York Times article, the amount of household income spent on rent in New Orleans jumped up from a historical average of 14% since 1985.

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