When it comes to housing, the Lehigh Valley remains competitive, even when it comes to rentals.
A new report from RentCafe found the region to be the second most competitive rental market in the country for small rental markets, with an occupancy rate at about 97 percent this year.
“The housing demand is much stronger than I would’ve anticipated five or six years ago, or seven or eight years ago, even,” said City Center CEO JB Reilly. He says City Center is at just over 99 percent occupancy with 2000 units.
“The population growth I think, is outstripping the supply of new housing,” Reilly said.
RentCafe found that less than 1 percent of available apartments are new construction, making competition fierce. On average, around 20 people are usually competing for a single unit.
“So we’ve built about 700 apartments in downtown Allentown since the pandemic and we continue to see strong demand. There’s strong job growth in the Lehigh Valley,” Reilly said.
“We probably this year have taken in twice as many applications as we did in the past,” said developer Nat Hyman, who has around 1000 units of his own. “We still see robust demand compared to any other market, but we are starting to see a little softening towards the end of the year.”
Even still, his occupancy is at 96 percent currently. All of which is keeping both business’ renewal rates high, with City Center at about 80 percent and Hyman at around 90 percent. That’s right on target with RentCafe’s report which found the renewal rate to be just north of 81 percent regionally.
Only time will tell if the trend continues.
“I don’t anticipate the demand to be quite as strong as we’ve seen in years past. I think we’re going to see a little softening for a while,” Hyman said.