Wisconsin apartment owners benefit from rough economyThe sluggish economy appears to be benefitting apartment owners. U.S. census data shows Wisconsin's vacancy rates for residential rental properties went down in 2011 from the previous year.
By: By Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The sluggish economy appears to be benefitting apartment owners. U.S. census data shows Wisconsin's vacancy rates for residential rental properties went down in 2011 from the previous year. There are a lot of reasons rental properties aren't occupied, says John Fischer. What people can afford is just one of them.
"When the economy's doing badly, residential rentals tend to pick up," he said.
Fischer is a Wausau area landlord and past president of Wisconsin Apartment Association. Before the housing bust, he says many rentals sat empty.
"When the home market was just going gangbusters we saw record high vacancies because anybody with a pulse could buy a house," Fischer said.
Census data shows Wisconsin with a rental vacancy rate of 6.6 percent last year. It's different for each city. Fischer says Wausau has plenty of rentals because of "overbuilding." In Janesville, rental properties can be hard to come by says landlord Dale Hicks. He says many foreclosed homeowners who lived with relatives are now renting.
"The people who have been foreclosed on a lot of those went home to where mother and dad were and now are going out and renting; they got their feet back on the ground," Hicks said.
Steve Malpezzi is professor of real estate at UW Madison's Graaskamp Center. He emphasizes state numbers are more volatile than national figures but believes there was a substantial drop in vacancy rates.
"We're kind of back to where the average trend on a rental number would be," Malpezzi said. "And that's a good thing."
While more rentals filled up last year, more homes sat empty. Census data show the state's homeowner vacancy rate in 2010 was at 1.6 percent. In 2011 it grew to 2.1 percent, which Malpezzi says is in line with longtime trends.