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For North Texas Renters, Pet Perks and Location Top Long Wish Lists

Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies predicts a coming crisis as more people become renters and rents continue to go up – they’ll have to spend more of their income to pay that housing bill.";s:

A new study shows 38 million Americans are renting apartments and homes. In Dallas, the home ownership rate is significantly below the national average.

  The new survey comes from the National Multifamily Housing Council – an industry group based in Washington D.C. The results show renters looking for affordability, walkability, good cell service, wi-fi connectivity ... and amenities for pets.  

“Managers are putting in community dog parks and in urban environments they’re putting them on the roof. They’re putting in community pet washing stations,” Rick Haughey says. 

Haughey is the vice president for Industry Technology Initiatives at the council. It surveyed nearly 120,000 renters nationwide. And he says a third of them own a pet. In North Texas, renters had a couple requests specific to place. 

“They also wanted to be able to take advantage of living in Texas, so 86 percent wanted that community pool which ranks higher than the national average. And you know maybe you have a reputation for being a little car-centric so on-site parking was desired by 94 percent of the residents.”

Pools, parking and pet-washing stations. Where does that leave affordability? Eric Nicholson has reported on rental prices for “The Dallas Observer.”

“When you actually look at the numbers when you look at the sort-of median rent in Dallas it’s right at about $725 dollars per month.”

And you might have to shop around a little to find that $725 studio.

“For the most part, the places you’d expect to be priced out of, like Uptown, downtown, you’re not going to find many or any $725-per-month apartments," Nicholson says. "I mean there’s no affordable apartments in Preston Hollow for example, but right there along Central Expressway there are several apartment complexes that are pretty affordable.”

Roquel Cunningham, a marketing professional in her twenties, lives in the massive Village apartment complex just east of Central Expressway. She says she moves around - a lot.

“Honestly, I haven’t stayed anywhere longer than two years." 

Cunningham says her top two priorities are location and price, but she has a list of other amenities too. 

“I would love wood floors or stainless appliances or newer appliances. If they have a fitness center…but mainly location. I want to feel safe.”

The National Council’s Rick Haughey says it’s not just millennials like Cunningham driving these trends.

“We’re seeing a lot of it among the millennial generation, but we’re also seeing baby boomers deciding to move and rent prior to doing full retirement.”

And the population of renters is only expected to grow.

“We see 1.6 million more renters today than 5 years ago. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies projects renter households to grow by up to 4 million in the next decade," Haughey says.

The center also predicts a coming crisis: as more people become renters and rents continue to go up – they’ll have to spend more of their income to pay that housing bill.

Former KERA staffer Jeff Whittington was executive producer for special projects and Think, as well as host of Anything You Ever Wanted to Know. He also created and launched the KXT Live Sessions series for KXT 91.7.