SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Rental demand is high and the struggle is real for renters trying to find homes in the Sacramento region.

When you can’t buy, you rent. But what happens if you can’t really rent either? 

As families fight for a new rental property, many say they’re constantly beat out by competition.

Inside her Carmichael rental, Carol Villegas – a mom of three – sits mostly packed and ready to move.

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“The only reason we have to move is because the owner has to sell it,” Villegas said.

But still, after months of searching, she doesn’t have a plan in place. Every time she comes close, someone else beats her to it.

“Just thinking about not having a place to go with my kids, it’s scary,” she said. It’s kind of insane, really.”

Multiple tries at finding a home have left her with multiple failed attempts. The scenario is a common one across the region. Another woman by the name of Shauna said she knows the struggle, too.

“There’s nights I can’t sleep,” Shauna said. “There’s days I cry and I feel like there is no hope for us to find something.”

The hunt for a new rental home is not easy. New listings pop up on websites like Zillow daily, but they’re riddled with hundreds of applicants. Homes fly off the market fast.

“I don’t even think it’s about who’s best qualified or the families involved. It’s all about numbers,” Shauna said.

Aside from the Bay Area exodus, economists like Sanjay Varshney say the pandemic is partially to blame. More people have needed to rent during these hard times, he says.

“Supply is staying fixed. Demand went up extremely high. As a result, you’re seeing a very high expensive rental market,” Varshney said.

The prices, he said, have doubled in some places. Though he doesn’t think it will stay like this forever. He expects rental properties to become more available, and hopefully more affordable, post-pandemic.

“We just can’t sustain that kind of momentum,” he said – talking about the Sacramento region rental market

Varshney said it’s incredibly rare for both the housing and rental markets to be so hot simultaneously.

But many, like Villegas, can’t wait that much longer. People like her are seemingly willing to do just about anything to lock down shelter amid this rental surge and keep a roof over their family’s head.

“I’ve offered two places to pay two extra months rent, on top of the security deposit, and we’re still not getting anything,” Villegas said.

Some have reported seeing their credit ding each time it’s checked as they continue to apply, only to be passed over for someone else. They’ve noticed their scores taking a dive as a result, making it harder for them to one day have a fighting chance at securing a rental.

Others say they’ve lost hundreds of dollars in application fees and never receive refunds.