Real estate frenzy shifts to those looking for rentals

Friday, May 3, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 18

The uptick in residential property sales, in both condominium and single-family homes, has been well-documented, but the most active sector this spring is the rental market.

On any given Sunday, there are many more renters scouring the market than those seeking ownership, and there is no comparison to the speed of the game. In most cases, those seeking long-term rentals – six months or more – must rent the properties sight unseen.

In addition to the uptick in businesses relocating, expanding or opening offices here, there are multitudes of institutions of higher learning, with arguably as many as 17 colleges here. Don’t forget about Lincoln Tech, formerly the Nashville Auto Diesel College, or the John A. Gupton College when compiling the list.

These colleges lure transient student/residents who often stay in town – Bill Purcell, Karl Dean and Brad Paisley being three of the more recognizable names – and they fuel the need for rental housing along with the corporate relocations and expansions.

Vanderbilt has increased its on-campus housing, but the growth of Lipscomb and Belmont, and even Middle Tennessee State University, has absorbed the local housing rental market. With short-term rentals devouring many of the properties once used for long-term leasing, the pool has all but evaporated.

In residential real estate sales, buyers will usually see the properties before the purchase, and the process of acquiring the property can take several weeks with inspections, appraisals, repairs, loans, title searches and closings.

In the rental world, there is no two-minute warning. Properties are intercepted within minutes of being kicked off on Craigslist, Zillow or other internet sites.

The traditional student housing model of three or four students leasing a single family is obsolete if the house is to be rented by committee requiring a unanimous vote of all four tenants, unless they convene quickly.

The renter must agree to take the house as quickly as possible and wire the landlord the deposit and often the first months’ rent while signing the lease before the hordes of others are able to reach the owner.

As is usually the case in desperate situations when the well-intentioned are forced to abandon reason, there are evil people that have been able to concoct schemes to rob renters in search of shelter.

The nefarious, internet thieves will search for homes for sale in a particular area, intercept the photographs and verbiage from the Realtor sites and post the information on Craigslist and Zillow advertising the properties as rentals.

The rental rates are well below market rates, and weary net surfers thrilled to have found a “deal” gleefully send the deposit to an unknown person at a financial institution in the netherworld.

Preying on the desperate, crooks have the money wired into accounts that are not connected in any way to the properties. Once the money is there, they vanish. While this is interstate criminal activity, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is of no help in tracking down these petty criminals.

With at least 500,000 hackers each day trying to destroy the U.S. Treasury, the Pentagon and the nuclear arsenal, the $2,500 deposit has a low, low priority. Another problem is that the internet criminals are good at what they do.

There are numerous opportunities in rental apartments, as the vacancy rate is higher than the single-family dwellings. In apartments and rental condo alike, new is in and old is out. Even now, there are reasonable rentals rates on older buildings, especially those with few or no amenities.

Rent quickly, unless it is a scam. If it seems to good to be true, it is.

Rentals of the Week

A quick check of last weeks closed rentals – houses and condos that were posted for rent and are now under contract – reveals the varying rates on diverse properties.

A condo at 2407 Eighth Avenue South, for example, has 930 square feet, one bedroom and one bathroom. It rents for $1,700.

A single-family home on Sunset Place with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 2,112 square feet landed a $4,000 deposit and monthly payments of $4,000. Sunset Place is in Hillsboro Village near Vanderbilt.

One of the more exciting properties that remains on the market is 949 Southside in Edgehill. A larger unit with four bedrooms, three full baths and a half-bath thrown in for good measure, this beast is seeking $6,450 per month.

One that went within seconds was the house at 2033 Galbraith Drive, a house resting a Martin Guitar throw from the Bluebird Café. Its four bedrooms, three bathrooms and one half-bath could easily house 14 songwriters and their friends.

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Fridrich and Clark Realty and can be reached at