The latest report on the Lee County rental market released by RealFacts of Novato, CA detailed some significant shifts in our rental market for 4Q09.
Lee County apartment occupancy rates in 4Q09 climbed 7.2% to 91.1%, the highest gain in the State of Florida. Lee County rents for the same period dropped 12.2% to an average of $776/month. This decline in rental rates was second in the State of Florida, trailing only the Ocala market.
It would appear that many of our residents who have lost their homes to foreclosure are now renting. With severely damaged credit associated with a foreclosure, many of these residents will be renting for quite some time. As these leases start to expire, I expect that we will see a significant uptick in demand for lease-to-own arrangements. These types of arrangements may prove very attractive for investors with skinny or negative cash flow assets.