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Rentals harder to come by in the Crossroads

By ALLISON MILES
March 26, 2011 at midnight
Updated March 25, 2011 at 10:26 p.m.

Pinnacle Point Apartments is one of the complexes that provides apartment housing in Victoria. Apartments and rental homes are becoming difficult to come by in   Victoria and the surrounding areas because of the oil and gas industry's success, as well as new and expanding businesses bringing more people to the area.

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It pays to begin the search for a rental property early on.

Some people visit a city and hope to find a place to rent immediately, but that typically isn't possible, said Lynn Oliver, president of the Victoria Apartment Association. Most apartment complexes require tenants to give 30 or 60 days' notice before moving out.

"I would suggest that prospective residents look in advance as early as possible," she said.

It's been about a month since Brandi Dixon and her roommate, Desiree Nesloney, packed up their lives and moved to Victoria.

And, while the move required the typical boxes and heavy lifting, the duo said it also took a few more phone calls than usual.

"A lot of the places we called were full," Dixon said from a bench at Riverside Park. "It wasn't too hard to find anything, but we did have to call around."

Dixon and Nesloney aren't alone.

Between oil and gas activity, new businesses and other expansions, some say rental property in the Crossroads has become more difficult to find.

A recent market survey showed Victoria apartments maintain a vacancy rate of between 7 and 10 percent, said Lynn Oliver, president of the Victoria Apartment Association. Although they have become more difficult to locate, available sites are still out there.

More rental space might soon become available as well. The industry is cyclical, for instance, and recent store closures such as StarTek, Lack's, Old Navy and more could all affect such rates.

At least two new apartment projects are also in the planning stages, while another has already determined a site and plans.

"It would provide another 400 units to the Victoria area, from what I understand," Oliver said in an email.

Other existing sites might also become available, said Nancy Garner, president of Woolson Real Estate.

Several apartment complexes have what the industry terms "down units," or apartments that are the hardest and most expensive to make ready for occupancy, that they simply do not rent out, she said.

One Victoria complex has 18 down units, while others have four or five, because the occupancy rates just weren't there, Garner said. Moving ahead, she said those might open up.

Some locations also experience a significant amount of delinquent payments, she said, and so those locations mightalso become available.

Rental homes become available all the time, but experience a quick turnaround, she said.

"If we have a house that comes up for lease, it rents in a day or two," Garner explained.

Natalie Bayarena experienced issues finding a home to rent two years ago, when she moved to Victoria from Dallas.

The small family - Bayarena, her husband and son Bruce - found it difficult to find a place they liked at an affordable price.

"A lot of the homes cost $1,400 or $1,500, and they weren't really that nice," Bayarena said, her 9-month-old daughter, Sophia balanced on her hip. "We finally found one, but it took a while."

Issues aren't limited to Victoria.

The Yoakum City Council recently decided to add 20 sites to the city's RV park, City Manager Calvin Cook said.

"We presently have a 30-unit park and it's full," Cook said. "It's been full for quite some time."

Work has already begun on the sites, he explained, and should be complete within about six weeks. If industry activity continues into the future, he said the city might continue further growth.

Regardless, Cook said the increase is a good thing.

"We feel like, if they're staying in Yoakum, they will spend a few dollars at our restaurants, convenience stores and other locations," he said. "We hope it will be good for the whole community."

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