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Why are rent prices so high around Tampa Bay?

Data says the Tampa Bay area is leading the nation in rent growth, which is bad news if you're looking for an affordable place to live.

TAMPA, Fla. — Finding an affordable place to live in the Tampa Bay area is getting harder and harder. Homes prices are rising while competition is fierce and now renting a place to live is getting more expensive too.

Rent in the Tampa Bay area is on the rise. Data shows that a one-bedroom one-bathroom apartment in Tampa costs on average $1,600. In St. Pete, the same type of apartment will cost you about $2,000 a month.

Why are prices going up? Jay Lybik is the national director of multifamily analytics at CoStar, one of the largest providers of real estate data in the United States, and he says it's a combination of a few different factors driving prices up.

The first factor should come as no surprise. 

The real estate market for homebuyers is competitive, which means many potential buyers or recent sellers are renting instead. 

Lybik says it's also important to note that not all families or people want to buy homes, "Not all households that rent are looking to buy and many people are happy with the renting lifestyle." 

He says the number of single-member households in Tampa has increased, meaning many only need or want space for just themselves.

Another reason for Tampa Bay's rent increase is newcomers relocating to Florida. 

"The massive increase in net migration due to the pandemic has also just put a huge amount of pressure on housing in the Tampa Bay area," explained Lybik. 

On average, more than 800 people move to Florida every day.

The pandemic has also contributed to rising rent costs by shorting the supply of construction materials. 

"Developers are having a difficult time getting projects completed due to supply chain issues, they're seeing problems with permitting and approval in the development process as well," said Lybik. 

Without more available housing, the high demand for apartments and low supply cause prices to spike.

Unfortunately, Lybik says the higher rent costs will likely remain the same, if not continue to increase over the next few years, "Once prices reach a certain price in the apartment market it's very difficult to get them to come back down unless there's a supply shock or negative demand shock."

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