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Housing prices on the rise: Survey data from Undergraduate Student Government shows a spike in rent for 2016-17

Credit: Robert Scarpinito | Managing Editor For Design

Credit: Robert Scarpinito | Managing Editor For Design

With leasing season in full swing, students can be found combing the University District for adequate — and affordable — housing for the 2017-2018 academic year.  

The search for housing that won’t break the bank might be a little more difficult this year, according to the average rent cost released in The Undergraduate Student Government Renter’s Guide. The guide puts this year’s average rent at $510 per student, not including utilities, a $40 increase over last year’s $470.

USG determines the average price each year by sending a survey to 2,000 random undergraduate students, said Shamina Merchant, the USG director of student affairs and a second-year in information systems.

“For each of the landlords that we included (in the guide), those are people that we have had at least three responses for,” Merchant said. “This is done so we can make sure that (the prices) are accurate.”

This year’s survey yielded a lower response rate than years prior, at roughly 259 students, about 13 percent of the 2,000 contacted. In the 2015 edition, USG had nearly double the response rate at 24 percent. 2014’s survey also had a response rate of 22 percent. Therefore, non-response bias could create a perceived rise in prices.

Itzhak Ben-David, an associate professor of finance, said other factors within the housing market could be at play, however.

“House prices increased over this period since the economy is transitioning out of the 2009 recession,” Ben-David said in an email. “Rents typically follow home value appreciation. The reason for this is that for an investor who owns a house, the alternatives are either to sell the house or to rent it. If sale prices increase, then rent increases as well.”

Another explanation for this increase in rent could be attributed to the trend away from home ownership, Ben-David said. Since the demand for rental properties is rising, the price follows suit.

“Generally, rents have gone up as home ownership rates have been declining since their peak at 2006,” he said.

Liz Kinnen, a second-year in speech and hearing sciences, recently signed a lease for a five-bedroom apartment with Inn-Town Homes, one of the companies included in the calculation of USG’s average.

“It’s going to be $566 plus utilities,” Kinnen said. “It eventually just came down to what was available and within our price range.”

Kinnen said she was surprised by the prices, expecting them to be a lot lower following her sister’s experience several years ago.  

“The more places we looked at, the more I realized that a lot of the prices were in the $600 to $700 range, and that was just way too much for us as a group,” she said. “I guess I knew going into it that housing around Ohio State is kind of ridiculously priced, but still.”

Students can anticipate this trend to continue as luxury-style apartment complexes continue to be built. The View on Pavey Square, The Doric on Lane and the recently announced 4-Points Development project at Tuttle and Lane all fit into this category.

“There are so many students looking for places so they know they can charge that much,” Kinnen said. “I’ll be curious to see how the second-years having to live on campus affects this though.”

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