No vacancy in area apartments

Whether purchasing or renting, finding a place to live in Jamestown is becoming an increasingly difficult task as many potential properties are filled up.

Construction workers pour concrete Monday at future site of Prairie Hills apartment complex in northeast Jamestown. John M. Steiner The Sun

Whether purchasing or renting, finding a place to live in Jamestown is becoming an increasingly difficult task as many potential properties are filled up.

Rosalie Wibstad, a realtor with Century 21 Heritage Realty, said the inventory numbers are down but sales have been strong.

Normally the company has between 100 and 125 properties for sale, Wibstad said. As of Monday morning, Century 21 has 62 up for sale.

Despite low inventory numbers so far this year many people have taken advantage of a federal $8,000 income tax credit for first-time home buyers, she said.

Diann Loper, president of the Jamestown Board of Realtors, said she has also seen people taking advantage of the tax credit even though Jamestown was never hit by the housing bubble that trashed markets in much of the U.S.


"I think the community in Jamestown is still fairly stable," Loper said. "I don't see us going downhill. We don't have the rows and rows of empty houses. We just need listings."

The types of high-risk mortgage loans that led to large numbers of foreclosures never made it to Jamestown, Loper said. There aren't nearly as many foreclosed properties on the market here as there are in parts of California and Nevada, she said.

"I think our lenders did a good job in not getting these people in those loans," Loper said.

Stacey Ova, property manager at S.O. Rental and realtor with The wRight Property, said the lack of homes is forcing more people to rent.

"More people are renting because they can't find anything they want to buy," Ova said.

Ova also rents out three buildings and four houses that have been consistently full nearly five years, she said.

"Usually if they give me notice I have it rented out before they even move," she said.

S.O. Rental uses year-long leases and also screens potential renters. It also requires a filled-out application before showing any soon-to-be available properties, Ova said.


She said she has wasted time on renters she later had to evict.

Better Homes Property Management also screens potential renters to keep out those that may be a risk, said Bonnie Etter, Better Homes Property Management owner.

Etter said the company has about 375 livable units and only a few openings, which will close in a few days. When a tenant moves out, a unit often needs work like painting, repairs and cleaning, she said.

Hometown Property Management's properties are also filled with tenants, said Scot Nething, co-owner of Hometown Property Management.

"Our occupancy rate is the highest it's been in a while," Nething said. "... There's always something available but its pretty slim pickings."

Those with rooms to rent have seen the increase due in part to the construction workers building Great River Energy's Spiritwood Station power plant. The rental surge started when construction began at the plant about two years ago.

The increased demand for living space has brought extra dollars into the local economy and most believe it benefits the city.

"It's good. Obviously people are in town and the economy is strong," Nething said.


But Nething called the high occupancy rate part of a cycle. He said after construction is completed at the Jamestown Regional Medical Center, vacancies could be at high levels like they were about four years ago.

"It's a cycle. It comes and it goes," he said.

Clarice Liechty, Jamestown mayor and private property investor, is hopeful the need for living space in Jamestown continues to be in demand.

Liechty is building a new "upscale" apartment complex with 62 units, two-car garages for each, and exercise and community rooms, she said. Linden Court, a complex with one-, two- and three-room units will open some time next summer at 1400 10th Ave. N.E., Liechty said.

"I'm hoping there is a need for it," she said. "You don't know exactly until you take the risk."

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at

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