Nathan Gesner, broker and owner at American West Realty, said his company, the largest property management company in Cody, has about 400 rentals and typically advertises for 12-15 properties at a time.
Now, that number is just five.
He said many people are filling out blanket applications, waiting for something to open up; some are inquiring about houses before they go on the rental market; and others are looking to commit to units before seeing them in person. He said rentals $1,000 per month or less are “flying off the shelves,” while $1,600-$1,800 units are moving only a bit more slowly.
“It’s been very strong,” he said. “They don’t seem to be phased by the prices.”
Cody’s rental housing market appears to be following the lead of the local real estate market in recent months as buyers show a record-high demand for properties with little to no change in the overall supply.
Kathi Charles, a realtor for Canyon Real Estate, said her company has about 20 rental properties, all of which are filled currently.
It’s a good situation for landlords, not so much for renters.
Caitlyn McCollum said the poor availability of housing caused her and her family to have to move to Montana last month. Her situation was exacerbated by the need to find a rental that allows pets.
“We have one dog that is well mannered and doesn’t cause any issues,” she said. “And when we could find one it was either a fortune to rent or it was rented as soon as possible.”
Gena Lawson, property manager for Coldwell Banker, said most of its properties are not pet friendly.
“When we tried to find a place to rent it took us six months to find something decent that allowed pets,” Derek Poulsen said. “We are at the top of our budget every month and have been for three years. There’s nothing out there that is reasonably priced that allows pets and if there is, it takes about two seconds for someone to rent it.”
McCollum said she could find nothing cheaper than $1,300 a month, an unfeasible price for a single income provider.
According to Zumper.com, a rental and real estate analytics firm, the average rent for a one-bedroom house in Cody increased by 1.9% to $650 over the past month. The average rent for a two-bedroom house remained flat at $700. Median rents hit their highest point in the summer of 2019.
Ann Kitts said her husband was applying for a job in Cody so the two were looking at housing.
“Rentals were non-existent and buying was so expensive for small houses in need of repair,” she said.
Gesner said American West has not raised rental pricing for existing tenants but has increased prices on properties that have opened up.
Charles shares the same sentiment and said she tries to avoid raising prices so that she can retain quality renters for the long term. She said she is unsure how long these trends will continue but Ed Higbie, part owner of Western Real Estate, said it will continue until more rentals are built.
“The supply will dictate how much happens,” he said.
Gesner said real estate has continued booming through the fall as well and Higbie said his sales are up 40% on the year.
“The demand has jumped tremendously,” he said.
Rentals and real estate have been more interconnected than ever in recent times as the high demand for housing has spilled over into the rental market. Gesner said he has seen a mix of incomes and demographics among his new renters including many people moving to Cody from other places occupying rentals until they can find a place to purchase. Charles said she has seen this trend as well at Canyon Real Estate.
“There’s so many people moving in and they can’t buy readily,” she said.
Many of those purchasing new homes in Cody are current residents taking advantage of the low interest rates, but a sizable portion of buyers are people from out-of-state moving to town in response to protests and COVID-19 concerns throughout the country.
“Certainly the national riots and other crap going on,” Higbie said. “This lawlessness we’re allowing to have in the country, people are tired of that.”
Lawson said it has been difficult finding people to rent out their homes since it’s such an inviting market to sell right now. Higbie said certain long-term rental owners have switched over to short-term vacation rentals.
Charles and Lawson said this dilemma has created an odd holding pattern where many homeowners would like to sell but are hesitant out of fear of the unknown when it comes to the next purchase.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘we could sell but then where are we going to live?’” Charles said.