Rising rents pricing out Sarasota residents

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- As the real estate market continues to rebound those wanting to rent are starting to feel the pinch. That’s because rental prices have steadily been on the climb. And as with any commodity that’s in short supply, high demand will drive prices increasingly higher.

The Suncoast real estate rental market is no exception, and search after search leads to the same result: Rental properties with starting prices above $1,000 a month.

"In Sarasota, for the last year or more than a year, rent has gone up considerably," says Linda Holland, a property manager in the area for more than 30 years. During that time she says she's seen prices fluctuate, but this latest upward trend extends beyond the immediate Sarasota area and includes other parts of the Suncoast.

"For the renters, that’s a difficulty because it’s harder to find good rentals and the prices are high," she says.

Pamela [last name withheld] is a Suncoast resident and one of the many struggling to find a reasonably priced rental.

"Rent or food or clothing, light bill, water bill -- everything is so exorbitantly high but the salaries aren't increasing at all," she says.

Pamela is a registered nurse and she also has her MBA, and while I did not ask her to disclose her exact salary, she did tell me that what she makes is barely covering her expenses.

"Just maintaining a basic, average, good lifestyle where you are able to meet your bills every month without sacrificing or having to do without some of your basic necessities is a challenge," she says.

We decided to crunch the numbers. The median household income in Sarasota is $34,000 a year. Based on calculations from housingconnections.org, that $34,000 annual income breaks down to about $2,800 a month. The recommended rent at that salary is $850 a month, but most of the rentals we found were in the $1,000 range. When you add in other expenses -- like car and credit card payments, utility bills, etc. -- a person making $34,000 a year will barely be scraping by.

"People are pooling there money together to just make ends meet to buy food and basic necessities,” Pamela says. “I’m not even talking about the extras."

But not everyone is struggling to keep up with the increasing prices. Holland says even with the higher prices, the demand for rentals is at an all-time high. And vacant properties don't stay that way for long.

"People are willing to pay the higher prices,” she says. “The ability to raise the rents, I think, is as strong as it was 6 months or a year ago, so I see the trend continuing."