Property managers in Jamestown are looking for more tenants to fill vacancies that are as high as 20% to 30% for some classifications of apartment units.
"It seems every one of the properties has some sort of vacancy," said Bonnie Etter, owner of Better Homes Property Management, referring to the apartment buildings with vacant units. "Right now, two bedroom older units are the toughest to fill."
Etter said Better Homes manages about 550 apartment units and currently has 134 vacancies.
"When construction was going on at Spiritwood we were full," she said. "At that time, more applicants than apartments. Now, more apartments than valid applicants."
The surplus of apartments prompted Kelly Rott, a property manager with Archer Real Estate Services, to speak at the May 13 meeting of the Jamestown Planning Commission concerning a zoning change for the planned UJ Place on the campus of the University of Jamestown.
UJ Place would combine commercial space and 56 apartments near Harold Newman Arena. Students and staff of the University of Jamestown will have first priority in renting apartments.
Rott spoke against a zoning change necessary for the construction of UJ Place, saying building new apartments would further aggravate the excess of rental units in the community.
"We're doing better than we were," Rott said, referring to the estimated 25% vacancies in the 80 units he manages. "We've been doing a lot of work on the apartments."
David Klein, executive director of Great Plains Housing Authority in Jamestown, said the area does not have a surplus of the type of housing some people are looking for.
"The biggest need is for families who are looking for three- and four-bedroom units," he said. "We get a lot of calls about townhomes."
A March report from Great Plains Housing estimated the number of rental units in Jamestown at 3,708 with 652 constructed since 2010.
Klein said he believes there have been people who have passed up jobs in Jamestown because of a lack of the type of housing they desire.
"That population is much more particular in what they are looking for," he said. "If it's not what they want, they don't take the job here."
He also said people are looking for things like better security and soundproofing than is offered in some older apartment buildings with current vacancies.
"The population now is looking for newer appliances, newer windows, in unit laundry," Klein said. "They combine households to be able to afford those features."
With job openings in many communities, people are more selective on where they relocate and the housing they will rent, he said.
Etter said property owners have been making updates to apartment buildings to replace things like appliances, carpet and fixtures.
Rents have also been decreasing since about 2014, she said.
"Rent peaked before Deer Ridge and other new apartments were added," Etter said.
Property managers are also using deals and even allowing pets in more apartments to attract renters, she said. Other changes include short-term leases to accommodate people such as traveling nurses or other people working temporarily in Jamestown.
Marketing has also changed with property managers using social media and vacancy signs at the apartment buildings along with traditional advertisements and listing sheets.
Rott said the Jamestown community has the available housing to meet any need.
"Now we just need the people and the jobs," he said.