With the long-awaited BarrelYards development outside Waterloo Park nearing completion, a big shift could be on the way for Waterloo’s real estate market.

While some of the BarrelYards units will be owner-occupied, others will be purchased as investments and rented out.

But those who watch the city’s rental market closely say the development isn’t likely to make a significant difference in what’s currently a landlord’s market.

“It’s tight right now. I think our pace of growth has outpaced the growth of new places to rent,” says Keith Marshall, a realtor with Royal LePage.

“There’s a real demand for inexpensive rentals in a good location.”

At rents rumoured to be $1,700 or more for a 950-square-foot unit, the BarrelYards isn’t exactly inexpensive.

Marshall says he expects offered units to find renters quickly – noting similar experiences in the Kaufman Lofts and other condo developments.

“You can probably find something for rent for half as much, but you’ll be in the outskirts of town and probably not such a great neighbourhood,” he says.

Bob Smith of Peak Realty agrees, saying renters in Waterloo will find themselves with more options the further up the price ladder they go.

“If people are willing to pay $1,400, $1,500 and up, there’s a lot of selection for them,” he says.

Most real estate experts say renting is a better option than buying for anyone who plans to stay in their new home for less than five years.

After 20 years in a west Waterloo suburb, Coun. Karen Scian will be moving into one of the new towers.

She says it’s important to her to be near the LRT route and uptown core – and while buying might not be the right call for everyone, she says it’s the right decision for her.

“I think that’s a choice that everyone has to make for themselves. For me, this makes sense,” she says.

Marshall says rental housing is in much higher demand in Waterloo than in Kitchener, possibly because of higher demand from students.