Solace Apartments -- St. Peter multi-family housing

(Herald file photo)

The American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that the rental vacancy rate in St. Peter is 2.8% based on estimates from the five years between 2013 and 2017.

Its data has a reported margin of error of +/- 3.4%. To get "better data," the St. Peter Community Development office undertook a phone survey of the multi-family housing units containing four or more apartment units. Of the 743 multi-family housing units surveyed, only 14 were currently available for rent. That calculates to a multi-family vacancy rate of only 1.9%.

For comparison, in 2018, the national rental vacancy rate was reported to be as high as 7.1%, while the vacancy rate in Minnesota was at 5.7%. A vacancy rate below 4% suggests that the market is extremely tight and does not encourage multi-family property owners to improve or upgrade their housing units.

Investments are delayed and higher rental rates can be established due to the lack of apartment availability. Such a low vacancy rate also doesn’t provide choices for prospective St. Peter residents who prefer not to own their home.

"Can I find a three-bedroom, two-bath, ground floor unit with garage parking close to the downtown for my family? Perhaps, but most likely not," city staff said. "There are a few multi-family developers in the very preliminary stage of exploring the St. Peter market. It is too early to know if anything will materialize, but the market seems to be ready for more construction."

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