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Sonoma County rental market tightens

  • Mike Ferreira, owner of Santa Rosa Landscape, mows the lawns at Coddingtown Mall Apartments, Thursday, July 25, 2013. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Construction workers have yet to cover the particle-board exterior of a 52-unit apartment project in downtown Santa Rosa, but already the waiting list for the rental units has grown large enough to fill a building three times the size.

"The demand is intense," developer Hugh Futrell said of the 150-plus households that are seeking a home this fall in his five-story, affordable housing project at Humboldt and Seventh streets.

And it's going to get much worse for renters, Futrell said, if Sonoma County meets near-term projections for job growth.

The days of slow-rising rents are over, pushed up by low vacancy rates and a dearth of new construction in the county. Property managers said prospective renters are frustrated by the same challenges that first-time homebuyers encounter in today's tight housing market.

"It's brutal," said Keith Becker, owner of DeDe's Rentals in Santa Rosa, a company that oversees rental houses. "We are leaving many qualified applicants unsatisfied simply because there is such high demand."

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