More apartments popping up in the Tri-Cities, but rent still high

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Apartment hunters have often been met with a waiting list here in the Tri-Cities. Many places have been nearly filled.
And even with new complexes opening up, demand is still high. Which means you'll pay more.

Brandy Shafer has been an apartment manager in the Tri-Cities for five years. She says the complexes here are way busier than when she worked in Montana.

"Renting apartments sight unseen, always full, full before people move out," Brandy explains.

Overall in our region, apartment occupancy was at its peak in 2010. 99% of units were filled. Now, it's averaging about 93%. There's been lots of new construction, to supply the demand.There are more than 12,500 apartment units just in the Tri-Cities.

Two years ago, it was nearly impossible to find a vacant apartment in the tri-cities and while it has gotten easier, it hasn't gotten any cheaper.

Rental rates have gone up in most complexes here in the Tri-Cities.
On average, tenants pay about $40 more compared to last year.
Landlords tell me it's partially because the property value has gone up.

They barely raised going rate at Water's Edge in Richland, just an additional $25 fee.

"I have been a little concerned, yes, but fortunately, it's stayed within my range," one tenant tells KEPR.

People are always looking for newer and better, so managers research those new properties to stay competitive.

Brandy says, "We did a big renovation recently, painted, put on a new roof, just to keep up with the newer properties."

But even some newer spots have had trouble filling up.
Earlier this year, KEPR reported one new site in Richland didn't have a single occupant. The newer apartments off the Bypass Highway, have competitive rates to older properties, but are still only 40% filled.

"I'd rather be in one that's full. That makes the landlord happy and as long as he's happy, we stay happy."

But full complexes aren't as likely in the Tri-Cities, as they were just a couple years ago.

One-bedroom apartments are the most occupied apartments in the state. To get a good rate, your best bet, is to negotiate with current tenants via webistes like craigslist to see if you can take over their lease because many landlords raise the price because of their popularity. Another good way to find a cheaper apartment is to come to the landlord with quotes from other apartments and negotiate.