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Manteca apartment rents rising
Jumps of $10 to $150 a month during 2012
A rendering of the proposed 128-unit Woodbridge Apartments complex planned north of Lathrop Road and east of Union Road in north Manteca. - photo by Rendering contributed

McMansions are out.

Apartments are in.

Actually, apartments attached to a lifestyle are in.

That’s what a survey of property management firms and real estate agents in the Manteca market reveals.

That doesn’t mean no one is buying traditional single family homes or renting them. They are. It’s just the hottest segment of the housing market right now are apartments and it shows.

The annual Manteca Bulletin apartment rent survey shows that rents went up an average of $40 across the board in Manteca during 2012. Rent hikes ranged as little as $10 a month for a two bedroom, one bathroom Sandpiper apartment unit that went from $820 a month in 2011 to $830 a month in 2012. On the high end of the scale for rent increases was a two bedroom and two bathroom apartment at Stonegate that jumped $150 a month going from $925 in 2011 to $1,075 in 2012.

The biggest monthly rents by far are for what is classified as “lifestyle” apartments.

Paseo Villas - the 300-unit luxury apartment complex that opened a decade ago along Atherton Drive - has increased rents 7 percent over the past two years.

Rents at Paseo range from $1,010 a month for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom 737-square-foot apartment to $1,530 a month for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,217-square-foot apartment.

“They (people renting at Paseo) want the lifestyle,” said Bill Filios, who is part of the complex’s ownership.

That lifestyle includes 9-foot high ceilings with crown molding, full-size in-apartment washers and dryers, fireplaces, movie theater, computer room, large pool, basketball court, granite counter tops and an array of other amenities.

Filios acknowledges many renters can afford to rent a traditional single family home in Manteca or even buy one.

But he believes some are gun shy after seeing what the foreclosure crisis did to relatives and friends. And others want the lifestyle and not have to worry about upkeep.

People still buying homes

Linda Askland of Aksland Real Estate that manages more than 240 rental homes agrees with Filios - to a degree.

“People who want to buy are still buying,” she said, noting home listings rarely last for long.

Apartments have a stronger allure for those into the lifestyle or who don’t want to commit to buying a home yet and don’t want to devote energy to upkeep of yard and home.  And while apartment rents are going up faster than for house rents, Aksland said that there have been modest gains in house rents.

Aksland noted the owners she deals with want to work with tenants as they understand the times are still a bit tough. The more modest rent hikes are aimed at keeping tenants as long as possible.

Even so, Aksland notes home rentals are moving briskly. In past months they would have as many as 20 available at any given time. As of Friday they only had six homes that weren’t rented.

Tom Wilson who also manages rentals notes rents for the most part have been flat.

In some cases, owners have gone two or more months without renting. That is a change from a year ago when rentals were being snapped up as quickly as they became available

Apartment rents went up in spite of the152-unit Juniper apartment complex opening in 2012 on Atherton Drive. The complex provides subsidized workforce housing.

Manteca is among lowest when it comes to apartment units

When it comes to the region, Manteca’s 19.2 percent of multi-family units in communities over 20,000 is one of the lowest topped only by Tracy at 17.56 percent. That is lower than the United States at 31.8 percent, California at 38.0 percent, Stockton at 33.7 percent and Lodi at 35.2 percent.

A study issued last year by economists at the University of Pacific’s Business Forecasting Center credited the higher percentage of single family homes in Manteca and Tracy to the “commute-centric southern San Joaquin County.”

And, according to previous studies by the forecasting center, renters are paying the price in Manteca.

For-rent surveys of available; apartments show rents in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon tend to be higher than the rest of San Joaquin County. The forecast center noted that in 2009 the median gross monthly rent that includes water, sewer, and electricity was $998 in San Joaquin County. US Census data shows that’s $28 higher than in Sacramento County and $156 higher than the United States as a whole but $57 lower than the California average.

While Manteca has a big demand for more apartments, Filios noted the high fees for building in California make it tough to financially pencil such projects out.

Filios and partner Art Nunes are getting things rolling so they could start work on a 128-unit apartment complex in North Manteca possibly this year.

Their Woodbridge Apartments complex is planned at 925 West Lathrop Road to the east of Woodbridge Shopping Center anchored by CVS Drugs and north of Lathrop Road.

The 128-unit garden apartment complex includes a 3,800 square-foot community center with a swimming pool and spa. There also would be a mail kiosk, enclosed garages, carports and extensive landscaping and landscaping improvements.

The northeast corner of Lathrop Road and Union Road was master planned for what is called “smart growth.” That means basic retail services such as grocery shopping, drug stores and food services are within walking distance of the apartment complex. The complex is also situated to serve as a buffer between the single family homes of Union Ranch to the north and the retail complex.