Scott Case is president of Case & Associates, which manages more than 25,000 residential apartment units in five states.
1. Multifamily development in Tulsa continues. Do you think we are keeping up with demand?
Multifamily development has definitely flourished over the past several years. Early on, we were the only developer in town; however, as a result of Tulsa’s stable occupancy and rents, we have seen several new developers enter into the market.
There are currently nine developments either planned, under construction or in the lease-up stage in the Tulsa MSA (metropolitan statistical area), including two in downtown Tulsa. I certainly believe the supply is keeping up with the demand; however, since we currently have three construction projects working in the Tulsa MSA — which includes Owasso, east Broken Arrow and south Broken Arrow — we’re praying the demand keeps up with the supply.
2. Have depressed oil prices had an effect on Tulsa apartments that you haven’t seen in other markets not dependent on oil?
Thankfully, no! We are all watching the price of oil, and although we enjoy the savings at the pump, it’s not good for the economy of our city, state or country. The leaders of Tulsa have done a great job creating a business-friendly environment with a diversified industry base that’s not as dependent on oil-related jobs as we were in the 1980s.
Although we have not experienced any negative effects of the price of oil as it relates to our occupancies and rents, we definitely worry that if oil prices do not rebound soon, the city may run a risk of companies downsizing and/or possibly transferring jobs to other cities … and that’s not good for any business in the area.
3. What kind of an effect has the recovering housing market had on apartment demand?
I continue to be surprised the housing market hasn’t recovered more quickly, especially when considering the historic low interest rates. I believe the housing bust several years ago is still fresh on the minds of most Americans, not to mention the time and expense involved with owning a home.
I believe the demand for apartments remains at high levels because developers are providing apartment dwellers with what they want: bigger floor plans, more amenities, better service and the flexibility to come and go whenever they desire.
Statistics show that approximately 50 percent of people choose to live in apartments because they want to, not because they have to. Millennials, baby boomers and retirees alike are preferring apartments because of the freedom to travel without having to worry about the maintenance, expense and headaches that come along with homeownership.
4. What are the newest types of amenities apartment-dwellers are starting to look for?
The recent growth and competition in multifamily development has caused all of the developers to upgrade their amenity package. We’re always trying to make our newest development better than the last. Back in the day, we could get away with a pool and business center, but not anymore.
We now provide garages, dog parks, dog grooming stations, business centers, resort-style pools, outdoor picnic areas, outdoor fireplaces/firepits, outdoor cabanas with TVs, fitness rooms, Wi-Fi in the clubhouse and limited access gates. The trend in apartments is certainly shifting back to being more social and community-oriented, and it’s the amenities pulling everyone together.
5. What’s the oddest story you’ve heard about an apartment unit getting damaged?
I could write a book! The oddest story was about 15 years ago, there was a domestic dispute with a couple, which escalated to the point we had to call the police. The gentlemen wouldn’t vacate the apartment and mistakenly told the police he was armed. After hours of negotiations to vacate the building, he refused.
The local law enforcement decided to call the fire department to literally “flood” him out of the apartment. … I guess this was safer than calling the SWAT team since many other residents lived nearby. He avoided the water for a while by crawling into the attic, but after the fire department sprayed thousands of gallons of water into every window of the building, the perpetrator finally decided to surrender.