Landlords have hands — and apartments — full in Portales

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

As soon as an apartment or house opens up for rent in Portales someone is there to lease it and many realtors are having to turn away prospective renters.

Everyone involved in the property management business is having to turn away inquiries and most have only a few apartments or houses available. Doug Downs, Master Realty property manager, said he has one two-bedroom house available out of the 80-to-85 properties that he manages.

“It’s been very busy,” Downs said about January. “There’s an extreme demand for a place to rent. We stay booked up throughout the year.”

Mark Foster, owner of Portales Apartments, can attest to the demand as well. Jolie Foster, wife and co-owner, said they manage 50 apartments located in either Portales or Clovis. Mark said their apartments range from $300 to $500. He said four apartments are being remodeled and will be available for rent next week.

Christy Davis, marketing director for Sun West Realty, said they have two apartments available. Davis said Sun West Realty-managed properties range from $195 to $600 a month.

“We’ve been pretty busy,” Davis said. “They (properties) go fast. We remodeled one apartment and before we could finish remodeling it, it’s already been leased.”

Davis said they don’t even have to advertise because of the high demand.

Hubert Morgan, owner of Morgan Realty, said he receives an average of six calls a day from people who are interested in the properties he manages. Morgan said the properties he manages are three-bedroom houses with a monthly charge of $700 or more.

A reason for the high demand is rising enrollment at Eastern New Mexico University. Each year recently, the enrollment numbers have continued to increase. The fall enrollment this past year was 4,052, the highest it’s been since 1975.

Jolie Foster said they’ll have apartments open up at Portales Apartments during mid-semester. She said there was more availability when the ENMU enrollment numbers were lower.

“We hear that on a regular basis students are unable to find an apartment off-campus,” Stephanie McClary, ENMU director of housing, said. McClary said it is the residents in the Bernalillo, Lincoln, Curry and Eddy who express the need for privacy. “They express to us the desire for more privacy and apartments.”

McClary said the apartment-style residence halls are at capacity currently and usually stay that way. Chavez Hall, Harding Hall and West Campus Apartments are the locations which offer apartment-style set-ups. Between the three, McClary said there are 185 apartments.

She said in the residence halls the monthly charges are from $325 to $370 with all bills paid for, cable, electric, Internet and water.

It is this desire which started ENMU representatives on a path to provide more apartment-style residence halls through a 96-unit, 270 bed project, east of Eddy Hall. The Collegiate Development Services firm of Irving, Texas is planning on an $11.9 million privatized housing project. Construction of the buildings would take 12 months and could be ready as soon as spring of 2007, according to Rafael Figueroa, president of Collegiate Development Services.

The apartments are one-, two- and four-bedrooms with a $351 to $511 cost per month, per bed.