In the latest episode of The REIT Report: NAREIT's Weekly Podcast, Ric Campo, chairman and CEO of Houston-based apartment REIT Camden Property Trust (NYSE: CPT), provided an update on the recovery effort from Hurricane Harvey and discussed how the storm is impacting Camden and the Houston market.
Campo said the remnants of the storm’s damage have essentially disappeared from Houston’s commercial districts. Damage is more extensive in the city’s residential areas.
“It's sort of two different worlds: one that doesn't look impacted and one that's obviously very impacted,” Campo said.
Campo said the storm did very little damage to Camden’s apartment buildings in Houston. He also noted that the storm immediately shifted roughly a year’s worth of demand for apartments in the area into the market. Camden’s occupancy rate in Houston climbed from 93 percent prior to the hurricane to 98 percent afterwards.
On net, the company has leased 500 new apartments since the storm hit, versus just 170 from January to August, according to Campo. “We think that [demand] is going to last for quite a while,” he said.”
Camden implemented special policies for renters in the wake of the storm. To avoid surges in rent pricing, the company turned off its dynamic pricing model and froze rates at the same levels from before the hurricane. It also removed the premiums it normally includes for short-term leases. Additionally, the company isn’t charging late fees on September rent payments.
Looking forward, Campo speculated that repairing damaged homes in the Houston area might take longer than anticipated.