CAPE CORAL — More people buying homes in Southwest Florida means renters may be paying more this year.
Several realtors we spoke with say houses that used to be for rent are getting bought up, and that lack of supply is causing rental costs to jump, sometimes by hundreds of dollars a month.
"It’s killing the rental market," said Richard Hewins, a property manager with Gulf Gateway Realty.
Hewins has been managing rental homes for dozens of years in the Cape, but the amount of landlords selling their homes right now aren’t making his job easy.
"All of the investors are selling out. I have personally lost 20 rental homes in the last three months," said Hewins.
But even though Hewins is losing homes, the demand for rentals is the same as it’s always been. So the prices are shooting up.
“Things that were renting for 14, 15, are getting 17 and 19," said Hewins.
According to the website FloridaRealtors.org, the supply of single-family homes is currently at an all time low, down more than 50% from last year. When fewer houses are for sale, the ones that are become desirable commodities that buyers are willing to pay up for.
That includes former rental properties, and Hewins said it’s a trend he doesn’t see ending anytime soon.
“If this market continues like they’re predicting for six months to a year, the prices today will be a bargain, and that is not a good outlook for medium-priced rentals," said Hewins.
Gulf Gateway Realty estimates out-of-country buyers might make up more than 20% of the market here in Southwest Florida. As more rental properties are bought up, Hewins said people looking for affordable housing may end up migrating to other communities where rent is cheaper.