Although rent costs have flattened in North Texas, renters are still paying some of the highest prices our region has ever seen.
But there's one spot where some are finding a little relief — even if it may not feel like it.
A new report ranked Denton with some of the cheapest rent prices in North Texas for a one-bedroom.
Listing site Zumper ranked some other cities with cheaper rent, including Arlington and Fort Worth. Plano, Richardson and Frisco topped the list as the most expensive.
But Denton is unique.
John Baen, UNT real estate professor within the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, says Denton is essentially in its own bubble and has been for years.
"Our market is very, very strong because the university is the primary employer and draw for apartment dwellers,” he said. "The University of North Texas has a very large housing department. And we have apartments, we have dormitories, etc. and we're not trying to make a profit on it necessarily, because it's part of our service to grow the university."
Its distance from the metroplex and the college town culture to focus on affordable housing for students has made it that way.
"We also have a lot of parents of UNT students. They actually buy houses to house their kids and then rent out rooms. There's a bunch of that going on, which also puts a lid on what people can charge on their rent,” said Baen. "[The students] also get their parents to cosign. So the risk of default is a lot less in Denton than it is in other places. So there's an assurance that our occupancy rate is going to stay fairly level."
Baen said overall, the culture in Denton is far different from its neighbors just miles down the road in Collin County.
“We don't have the Fortune 500 companies like Frisco and Plano does – those high-paid executives. And we don't have high-rise apartment buildings that are 20 stories high, that are luxuries, we don't have the condo market that they do,” he said. “We don't have the housing market averaging $900,000. So we're still pretty laid back. And we're still Denton.”
Because of the proximity to such demand, there’s concern the Denton bubble won’t last forever.
"People from Frisco are commuting from Denton because of the price differential. So I don't think the price differential is going to is going to stay for very long, because the demand is growing so much,” he said. "It's not that Denton has grown out to the metroplex. The metroplex has grown to Denton."
Cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean affordable.
Rents have risen 15 percent in Denton year over year. Cities like Carrolton, Plano and Grand Prairie saw bigger increases.
We can blame it on demand for housing in general, inflation, a dramatic increase in property taxes, and Texas’ lack of rent control.
It’s especially hard for those living paycheck to paycheck, with CNBC reporting earlier this year that 64% of residents across the country are living that way due to increased cost of living expenses.
Additionally, a recent report by the United Way of Denton County shows more than 45 percent of households can no longer afford to live in the area, with the poverty rate also exceeding the rate of other Denton County communities as well as the national average.
Homelessness has also increased exponentially in Denton County over the past year.
These types of occurrences in this unique housing market are a potential learning tool for the real estate program at UNT.
Right now, UNT’s business school is looking for partners to establish a real estate center to study these housing trends.
This story originally appeared on KXAS-TV (NBC5), a Denton Record-Chronicle news partner.