CORPUS CHRISTI - Plunging oil prices may be a relief for Coastal Bend residents at the pumps, but they are having little influence on rents or mortgage payments.
The housing market in Corpus Christi is perhaps the tightest it has ever been for both potential renters and those looking to buy a home.
Things will not change for the rest of the year despite a rush on home and apartment construction, said Jim Lee, the chief economist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Oil field workers who lived in apartments in Corpus Christi are moving to Alice, Cotulla and other small towns within the energy play to be closer to work, said Melissa Gomez, a broker for AAA Apartment Locating in Corpus Christi.
Others have been moving out of higher-end luxury apartments and into older, more-affordable complexes to cut costs.
The exodus has created hundreds of apartment vacancies since November, but rent prices remain unchanged. Instead of lowering rents, property managers have eased move-in criteria to ensure occupancy.
Applicants with credit and rental-history blemishes and those whose income is less than three times the cost of rent are no longer being disqualified for apartments.
Five recently completed apartment complexes have been cleared since March to take in tenants. Another dozen are in various stages of construction and are due to open in coming months.
The Corpus Christi area’s apartment occupancy rate was 92.5 percent in December, according to ALN Apartment Data. That is down from 94.3 percent in November and the record months of December 2013 and April 2014, when occupancy hit 95.2 percent.
Average rent in Corpus Christi in December was between $842 and $880, an ALN report said, though it is not uncommon for newer complexes to ask for more than $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment.
Apartment occupancy in Corpus Christi in January 2010 was 89 percent, and average rent was about $700.