It's harder than ever to get an apartment in CK

Many Central Kitsap apartment owners had high occupancies even before the arrival of 3,800 sailers on the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Sacramento last month.

The influx has strained the local rental market to its limit.

Managers reported inquiries from a flood of eager renters in recent weeks, but most buildings reached capacity before the end of January.

“I only had a few three-bedrooms, and I rented them all within 24 hours on Jan. 29,” said Christian Price, manager of the Fairway Lane Apartments at 3979 N.W. Fairway Lane.

Filled to the limit, Prince was forced to turn away several would-be renters.

The trend toward high occupancy in Central Kitsap began long before the ships docked in Bremerton, said Valerie Swinnerton, office manager for the Puget Sound Rental Owners Association.

Autumn of 2001 was when she first noticed the spike.

“I have been doing this for 15 years, and I don’t know what’s going on,” Swinnerton said. “I have never seen (vacancy) this low except in 1990.”

She said the two ships’ arrival was not adequate to explain why so many complexes have 100 percent occupancy.

“Everyone wants to live in Central Kitsap right now,” Swinnerton said.

As interest rates tumbled below 7 percent, many landlords saw residents move out to purchase homes. But even that has not affected the prosperity.

In the last six months, 15-16 renters bought homes and left the Quail Hollow Apartments, according to manager Liz Neal. But others quickly took their places, and the 201-unit complex at 2033 Bobwhite Lane has just one vacancy.

Like most area managers, Neal reported that prospective renters were young, single men with roommates wanting two- and three-bedroom units.

Not surprisingly, many owners raised rents by $15-$25 in January. Some managers cited rising utilities costs as the reason, and others said they were keeping up with the competition or responding to market cues.

“It’s supply and demand,” said Terra Walsh, manager of the Wellington Apartments on Kensington Lane and the Ridgetop Apartments.

Not everyone waited for the sailors to come to them.

Daniel Smith, the manager of the Erlands Point Apartments, sent literature about the complex to personnel on the ships and was rewarded for his effort. The 148-unit facility is now completely full.

“By the time they came in they had already taken up most of our units,” Smith said. “The military has a great impact on our community.”

Yvonne Jacobo researched Erlands Point on the Internet and she and two shipmates from the Sacramento signed a lease there on Jan. 21. She considers herself fortunate, because many of her friends have encountered problems finding housing.

“Some are getting in, but some have to wait because there isn’t room anymore,” Jacobo said.

Although area landlords are accustomed to wide fluctuations in vacancy rates, the recent demand for rental units likely will spark interest in building new complexes, Swinnerton predicted.

“It is a Navy town and a lot of people don’t want to buy. They aren’t from here,” she said.

Swinnerton expects to see units built from Riddell Road north into Silverdale.

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