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Rental Market Flooded After Tornado

"That's probably the quickest I’ve rented one of my properties."
PEORIA - Experts say the local renters market is exploding as people figure out to do after their homes were damaged in the Central Illinois Tornadoes.

"So if you want a rental in Washington or East Peoria or Peoria, they're difficult to find. They're out there, but they're difficult to find," said Phil Harvey, President of the Peoria Area Association of Realtors.

Harvey described the local renters market as 'robust.' He is also a founding member of nestrent.com, a website for realtors to post properties that was temporarily opened up for the public to post, too.

"We were posting 70 to 80 a day, renting about 50 a day," Harvey said.

That was beneficial for landlords like Michelle Largent, who had just ended open house events.

"It just got finished being painted that day on Saturday, and on Sunday I went over with the 'for rent' sign," Largent said.

That's the same Sunday hundreds of homes were destroyed in the tornadoes. Bobbi Jo Ward’s house was right in the storm’s path.

"The roof came off and the garage came off," Ward said of her Washington home.

She says it took a few days to realize she'd be homeless unless she went to work.

"You’re like, is it too late to find a place? Well at that point in Washington, if anything came up, it was gone," she said.

Luckily- Largent and Ward knew each other though work.

"Michelle had offered me the house before and I just called her and said, ‘I’ll take it!’" Ward said.

"That's probably the quickest I’ve rented one of my properties," said Largent.

Ward said she wants to rebuild on the same piece of land. She said she’s just glad she has a nice place to stay for now.

Harvey said the next big boom will be in construction after winter comes to an end. He predicts about 25 percent of victims will choose not to rebuild, instead putting those empty lots up for sale.
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