Bonny Holland
Submitted photo

The number of rental homes offered for lease on ARMLS (Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, excluding vacation rentals) was 3,695 as of April 1, 2014, dramatically lower than the 4,122 we saw a month earlier.

This represents just a one-month of supply of rental property inventory. Rental demand is very strong and is driving supply to unusually low levels.

In addition the supply of single-family rentals is dropping much faster than apartments, condos and town homes. The supply of single-family rentals stands at 26 days on market.

The average time on market for a leased home (excluding vacation rentals) fell to 41 days, down from 50 days last month. With this fast turnover and very low vacancy rates, it is likely that rents will increase in the most popular locations. In Ahwatukee Foothills the current average rental rate is $1,686 monthly.

A larger portion of the population is simply choosing to rent instead of buy these days. This includes much of the millennial generation and those who have lost their homes either to foreclosure or short sale.

Whether they prefer the rental lifestyle or do not have the credit history or down payment needed to purchase a property, this trend is keeping the rental market very strong.

The 2013 numbers for Ahwatukee Foothills showed 917 closed transactions for monthly rentals, 623 rentals at $1,500 monthly or less, 211 rentals between $1,500-$2,000 monthly, and 95 rentals for more than $2,000 monthly.

The 2014 Ahwatukee numbers are strong again and show 348 closed lease transactions with 138 current active rental listings, according to MLS.

The most affordable being a one-bedroom, one-bath condo for $658 monthly with the most expensive rental property being an 8,400-square-foot custom home for $9,995 monthly.

It has been about two years since Wall Street got into the home buying and renting business in the Valley of the Sun, once plush with foreclosures and bargain deals. The institutional investor-buying spree peaked in July 2012 in the Valley with the acquisition of more than 800 single-family homes.

There are nine investment groups that fit into this category and own around 13,400 rental properties across Maricopa County. These numbers seem high but this is only 5 percent of all of the single-family rental inventory and less than one-half percent of the Valley’s total housing stock.

According to AZ Mortgage Specialist and local area resident Mike Langs, investment property rates and terms vary but you can obtain an investment property for as little as 15 percent down with rates typically about .50 percent higher than the going rate. With larger down payments the better the interest rates get.

Underwriting has also gotten a little easier according to Langs, in the past you needed to qualify for your current home as well as the investment property, but now you can use current market rent to offset the mortgage payment.

In the past most lenders have had a cap on the amount of investment properties you can own, however, those guidelines are easing too. Currently, financing can be done for up to 20 investment properties.

With a strong demand, affordable pricing, and attractive financing now may be the time to look to purchasing an investment home in Ahwatukee.

• Bonny Holland is with Keller Williams, Sonoran Living in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach her at (602) 369-1085, or on Facebook and Twitter.

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