Viewpoint by Paula Christine Schuler
Since 2006, I have been a licensed sales agent.
In the last three years, most of my team’s rental customers chose properties in the historic neighborhoods of Downtown, Tobin Hill, Monte Vista, Mahncke Park and Alamo Heights.
Rents are up. Demand is up.
More than half of my recent customers are from out of town because they are moving here for jobs.
The January update from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that San Antonio area unemployment rates in December 2012 were only 5.7 percent compared to the national rate of 7.6 percent, a difference of more than 33 percent.
Price, condition and amenities are the more objective primary factors customers consider when looking for a place to live.
The most subjective factor is a feeling of safety or comfort.
Comparing factors and finding properties that are close matches in one or more factors is what real estate professionals call finding comparables.
Agents and appraisers calculate value by reviewing data from completed and pending transactions, including neighborhoods, construction age, roofing types, square footage, and almost every other detail.
These numbers are then used in real estate transactions everyday to project the current and trending values of available property.
In the rental market, consumers do not go through as much detail because a lease is generally not a 30-year commitment, however, principles remain constant.
Properties that rent for $600 would be comparable to each other on the basis of price.
The real or “comparable” price of the property would be calculated by adding or subtracting value of the price determined by the market value of the neighborhood and unit features that do not match, such as flooring types or central air versus window units.
If one rental is compared to another with the same price in the same neighborhood with the same square footage, appliances, exterior, paint colors, parking, but one has quiet central air and the other has window units, then one unit will be considered the greater value by most renters.
The greater the value, the less time the property spends on the market.
Subjective value is determined by personal preference.
Individuals place different priorities on features, especially when it comes to a sense of feeling safe or comfortable.
With this in mind, there are no genuine comparable properties within a quick walking distance to this college that match up with Tobin Lofts at SAC.
The nearest true comparable is Can Plant at The Pearl, a new construction apartment complex built within The Pearl, a live-work-play development built repurposing the historical property of the Pearl Brewery about 11/2 miles east of this college.
The Playland parking shuttle and VIA Route 20 pass by on Josephine Street two blocks north of the Can Plant at The Pearl.
Construction, parking, unit features and community amenities are very similar.
Price is not.
Rent at the Can Plant at The Pearl does not include utility bills and does not offer furniture at no extra charge.
According to the Can Plant website, prices start at $999 for a living/sleeping area, one bath; $1,200 for a one bedroom, one bath.
The Tobin Loft prices range from $875-1,050 for a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment; $675-775 per person for two bedrooms, two baths; $525 per person for four bedrooms, two baths; and $575 per person for four bedrooms, four baths.
The nearest price comparable group includes older multifamily housing around this college, originally built in the 1920s to the 1950s.
Older housing presents concerns about safety issues, such as smoke detectors, wiring, wood rot, pests, and neglected maintenance.
Older buildings can be drafty and require extra energy for heating and cooling. Condition varies significantly because it may have never been updated and still be an original home or it may be completely refurbished, updated and come with granite counters, trendy tiled walk-in shower, double-pane windows and more.
Housing is a very personal decision.
Personal circumstances can encourage a student’s success and this includes the environment where a student goes to sleep at night.
Students at this college do not receive preferential treatment at Tobin Lofts at SAC.
When word spreads to students at UTSA Downtown, University of Incarnate Word, St. Mary’s University and Trinity University, the competition will heat up.
Then students will be experiencing more of what many locals and most people moving to San Antonio are experiencing, increased demand with increased rents.
Tobin Lofts at SAC represents an excellent value for the area of the city, walking distance to this campus, parking, unit and community amenities with utilities and furnishings included.