In what some landlords are calling the fastest renting season in recent memory, students are rushing to claim housing in Collegetown, even sleeping outside rental agencies to be the first to secure the area’s most lucrative real estate.
Around 15 students camped outside the Ithaca Renting Company office on Dryden Road Thursday night to sign leases for a range of living arrangements, including two “coveted” four-bedroom apartments and a 14-person house snatched by the baseball team, according to Christina Kim ’15 and Nicholas Busto ’15.
“We think, honestly, it’s worth it to suck it up and take shifts and have a shitty hour-and-a-half in the night to have housing for next year,” Busto said. “It is kind of getting late [in the ren and we don’t want to be screwed out of housing.”
Unlike many other rental agencies in Collegetown, Ithaca Renting Company requires residents to sign leases on a first-come, first-serve basis — the primary reason people camped outside the office overnight, according to Lisa M. Everts ’92, the company’s rental manager.
“The reason we have people camping is because we don’t tell people they might get an apartment; it’s on the spot,” she said. “We have had tours going on for several weeks but then people are expected to come in and sign for available apartments, first come, first serve.”
Mark Eiding ’15, the first person in the line, said his group started taking shifts at 5 p.m. on Thursday evening.
“I had a prelim tonight so I only got here at [about] 10 p.m. But our group started shifts much earlier than that,” Eiding said.
Some students who spend the night, however, expressed frustration with Eiding’s group’s early start. It was “almost ridiculous” of them to start so early, Arnav Sahu ’15 said.“We had a plan of probably going there at around midnight or 1 a.m., just like any sane and average person do,” Sahu said. “But then I went there and found out that there were people waiting there since 5 p.m.”
The early push to secure Collegetown housing did not go unnoticed by several Collegetown landlords, who said they were inundated with students inquiring about leases earlier than any other year in recent memory.
According to Nick Lambrou, landlord at Lambrou Real Estate, the 2013 renting season started “about two weeks earlier that it normally” does.
“I felt this year was the fastest I’ve seen in some time,” Lambrou said. “This time last year, if someone walked in here looking for a three-bedroom apartment, I could normally offer them three or four locations. But if someone were to walk in here today asking about a three-bedroom, I would have just one.”
Kristie O’Connor, a broker for O’Connor Apartments, echoed Lambrou’s sentiments.
“At the time we were already finished signing leases this year, we had just started signing leases last year,” O’Connor said. “I don’t know if there is an increase [in renters], but there is earlier renting.”
According to O’Connor, the company is still receiving “many calls a day” from students about housing options, even though the majority of the company’s properties have been rented for about 10 days now.
Still, some landlords, including Pam Johnston of Pam Johnston Apartments, maintained that this renting season has not been visibly different from previous years.“I’m not seeing anything that doesn’t happen every year. Kids who are looking at apartments with larger groups want to look early,” she said.
Though some landlords said their businesses have not suffered from the establishment of new housing locations such as the recently-opened Collegetown Terrace, others said they have increased their efforts to stay competitive in Collegetown.
Ithaca Renting Company, for example, has increased the number of photographs and information on its website “so that parents can see what the apartments look like without coming to Ithaca,” according to Everts.
“We have not seen a direct impact from [Collegetown Terrace] yet, as we’re usually marketing the larger-size units, and they have smaller units. But we have improved our marketing efforts,” Everts said.
Collegetown Terrace, however, could create competition “in the long run,” according to Lambrou.
“I haven’t felt much competition from that property yet. I’ve heard from tenants that it’s a little too far, and if they are going to pay ... $1,000 to $1,200, they could get that similar type of rent closer [to campus],” he said. “[But] it’s their first year, so in the long run it could have an impact.”