Almost half, 42.9 percent to be exact, of Clark County residents are tenants of a rental home, be it a house, apartment or other living situation, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.
And, according to a Marcus & Millichap first quarter Apartment Research Market Report, record-setting tourism and strong convention attendance are creating jobs and driving up demand for apartments in the Las Vegas area.
“While not yet at the prior peak, single-family housing is becoming expensive in the metro, driving strong demand for available units,” the Marcus & Millichap report states.
The report estimates that average apartment rents will rise to $793 this year while average monthly mortgage payments will be $1,086, which encourages more people to rent. However, several local experts predict apartment rents to increase 3 to 4 percent this year.
But how does one decide which is better: living in a single-family rental home or in an apartment community?
It’s a matter of weighing all the lifestyle factors influenced by a living situation.
“Sometimes a renter may become sensitive to an apartment living environment where there are close-by neighbors and vehicles parked in a shared parking lot setting,” Lesa LaRocca, managing director of real estate for Greystar, said. “Although this living experience offers elevated social interactions and creates a warm sense of community, it may not suit the needs of every renter.”
The key considerations are space, amenities, neighbors, maintenance and cost, according to Kami Zargari, of Triumph Property Management.
Single-family homes can be a strong draw for an entertainer, a cook or a mechanic as they can typically offer space in the places apartments just can’t measure up.
“The best draw to a home rental versus apartment living is space, since homes typically offer more space than apartments. A typical home will offer a garage, bigger kitchen with more cabinet space and possibly a backyard with space for adding a small storage shed,” Zargari said.
Most apartment complexes offer full amenities like fitness centers, racquetball courts, swimming pools and tennis courts.
“Many of our Camden communities have dog parks, playgrounds; and this year, we will be adding yoga rooms to many of our communities,” said Janice Richards, regional manager of Camden.
Zargari argues that modern single-family homes can compete well with amenities such as pools, spas and community clubhouse offerings.
But, the apartment amenities don’t just stop at the recreational offerings. Consider the ability to call in maintenance requests through a 24-hour call center, and ability to pay rent online or enter a service request.
“Camden also has a resident portal where you can chat with your neighbors, contact the office directly or join many community groups,” Richards said. “Each community provides living excellence through community functions and parties.”
Neighbors are almost like family, you canât choose them.
“Another advantage of renting a home versus renting an apartment is the obvious advantage of not having neighbors on top, bottom or either side of your home,” Zargari said.
In an apartment, the rotation of neighbors can be fairly constant. Leases expire on a rolling basis and new neighbors tend to come and go as quickly as a Las Vegas jackpot.
That’s bad news when itâs a good neighbor, but the flip side offers a ray of hope.
“When you live in a home, often times your only recourse to a noisy neighbor is to call the police and usually they are too busy to respond,” Richards said. “With an apartment, if you have a noisy neighbor, you can contact the apartment company and they will work with both neighbors to resolve the problem.”
But, that doesnât help to build a sense of community.
“We encourage residents to attend our scheduled activities as a way to get to know their neighbors, which can certainly enhance the resident-to-resident connection leading to an elevated and positive living experience,” LaRocca said.
Maintenance can become a bother for any tenant. Be it the weeds on the lawn or a malfunctioning air conditioner, it takes time and money.
In a home, tenants are typically expected to maintain the outdoor space, the lawn, the pool, the bugs, unless the landlord specifically includes a service.
And, dealing with a malfunction in the home can be time-consuming when dealing directly with a landlord. While landlords are required to repair many appliances, that doesnât mean it will be easy for the tenant.
“One of the biggest pitfalls you could face is a delay with having work done in your rental house in a timely manner since your property management company will have to call someone out and deal with your problem or maintenance issue versus having someone on site who could fix your problem fast,” Zargari said.
Apartments offer the ease of making a quick phone call for repairs and not having to worry about the maintenance of outdoor, communal space.
“The convenience of living in an apartment is a major plus,” Richards said. “If you have a busy life, which most of us do, apartment living will free up valuable time for you. There is no yard work, pool cleaning or repair work needed. We take care of all that for you.”
When it comes to cost, the monthly rent for a single-family home versus an apartment in the same location can be fairly comparable. But the costs don’t end there.
Consider move-in costs.
Upfront costs for a house will usually run you the first monthâs rent, plus a security deposit usually equal to a monthâs rent, any pet fees and utility deposits (which run more for a bigger space).
Apartment fees are typically lower and more flexible. Many will split deposits over several months, offer a free month to lower move-in costs or cut other deals to fill a vacancy.
If you’re curious what utilities will run at any given residence, call the utility companies to get average and highest rates at that address in the past year for a cost guide. Call NV Energy at 702-402-5555 and Southwest Gas at 877-860-6020.