Elisa Regulski was getting desperate. The 29-year-old’s lease on an apartment in South Austin was days away from ending, but after putting in half a dozen applications she still didn’t have a place to move.

“I wasn’t sleeping very well,” she said. “If you were to ask my friends, they would say that was pretty much all I was talking about for that month.”

Then Regulski, who was looking for a place with her fiancé, got some advice that typically gets doled out only to would-be homebuyers in Austin’s booming housing market: offer to pay more than the asking price.

In a last-ditch effort, our realtor was basically saying that people were bidding, maybe, $200 to $300 over rent a month,” she said. “That was shocking.”

Regulski and her fiancé, Mark Moore, felt they had no other option. When they found a three-bedroom rental home in South Austin listed for $1,800 a month they offered to pay $2,000. In return, they got a 12-month lease – a win that didn’t quite feel worth celebrating.

“It feels like a scam,” Regulski said.

Rent prices in Austin have been increasing at the fastest rate ever, according to several data analysts that track this information. The culprit? Experts say the supply of homes and apartments for rent is not keeping up with the number of people who want to live in them.

This imbalance, the effects of which are evident in the for-sale market, means prices have ballooned. While rents in Austin have typically…

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