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urbanguy

The rental market is tight & getting even tighter

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urbanguy    0

The rental market is tight and getting even tighter

Tri Le found himself in need of a new apartment recently when his landlord sold the one he had been calling home.

Le quickly realized this is not the easiest time to be looking for a rental in Honolulu. The housing boom of the past four years has reduced the supply of rental units, and a tighter supply has led to higher prices.

"It's a really stressful, taxing process to try to find a home," said Le, a massage therapist living in Waikiki. "There's just not a lot available."

O'ahu rents are at the highest they've been in at least 14 years, according to [email protected], a real estate market analysis firm in Honolulu. The average rent for apartments is $1,461, up from $935 in 1997. Rents breached the $1,000 mark in 2001. The last time rents were in the four figures was 1994.

But a bigger problem for renters is a narrow selection of properties.

"It's a very tight market," said Lurline Johnson, vice president of Property Profiles Inc. "It's really difficult for the renters right now. ... They run into lack of availability first of all."

P.J. Moore, president and principal broker of The Property Managers Ltd. in Kahala, called it a matter of supply and demand.

"You don't have the supply and you do have the demand," she said.

That's partly because of fewer investors buying properties to rent and some owners taking units back from the rental market for family members or children, Johnson said.

Five years ago, renters had their pick of properties, said Johnson, who manages 300 units, including single-family homes and apartments.

"It was a totally different marketplace," Johnson said. "We as landlords were saying, 'I'll paint it!' We were standing on our heads trying to get people to rent places."

But now, she hears people say they have been looking for two or three months for a rental, "and I'm hearing it more and more."

Harsha Reddy, who just graduated from medical school and moved to Hawai'i to start his internship, was looking for a two-bedroom place "that's going to be a secure, safe place," he said. He wanted two parking spots

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