MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Since the beginning of the pandemic, rent prices in Myrtle Beach have increased 29% according to data from ApartmentList.com.
“Myrtle Beach is a market where we are seeing above average rent growth,” said Christopher Salviati, a housing economist for the website.
He said nationwide in the past year rent has gone up an average of 18%, but in Myrtle Beach has gone up 21%.
There are fewer first-time homebuyers because of a booming housing industry, increasing property values and landlords needing to catch up after the pandemic eviction moratorium are a few potential reasons, according to Salviati.
Another reason is an increasing number of people working remotely.
“There are lots of folks out there looking for apartments and very low vacancy rates,” he said.
Julie Meaney works for the Eastern Carolina Housing Organization (ECHO), a group that works to help people find housing or get caught up with rent payments.
“People are reappearing now for additional assistance or appearing for the first time for assistance because once their lease has ended, their landlord wants to raise the rent $200 and $300 dollars,” Meaney said.
Meaney said ECHO helped multiple tenants during the pandemic get caught up with rent payments and pay ahead three months through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), but some are coming back for assistance as they face rent increases.
According to a United Way of Horry County study, more than 30% of Horry County residents are considered “extremely poor,” or “low-income.”
“A lot of the folks we’re serving, they are already extremely low income, or low income, or are living under 30% of the area’s median income,” Meaney said. “They are already living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make rent as it is.”
Looking ahead, Salviati believes vacancy rates look somewhat promising.
“We are seeing a little bit of loosening in the tightness in the market,” he said. “Our vacancy rate index has started to tick back up a bit in recent months, which is kind of indicating that some of these marketing constraints are loosening a little bit.”
However, he believes rent prices will continue to increase at a lower rate.
“I think we will see a little bit of easing potentially, but I do think rents will continue to trend upward at a pretty rapid pace, but probably not as the same astronomical rate we saw last year,” he said.