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Real estate investment trust sees business booming post-Hurricane Harvey

  • Camden Property Trust has seen a "total transformation" of its business since Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, its CEO told CNBC on Tuesday.
  • The Houston-based company, which develops and manages multifamily apartment communities, has seen an influx of renters since so many homes suffered damage.
  • Shares of Camden Property Trust are up almost 4 percent since the hurricane.

Camden Property Trust has seen a "total transformation" of its business since Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas just over three weeks ago, its CEO told CNBC on Tuesday.

The Houston-based company, which develops and manages multifamily apartment communities, has seen an influx of renters since so many homes suffered damage.

"We had a lot of vacant apartments in Houston and right now there's a lot fewer vacant [apartments]. We're creating homes for a lot of the people who were flooded," Richard Campo said in an interview that aired on "Closing Bell."

In fact, during the last 2½ weeks, the company has leased net new 500 apartments, compared with about 170 apartments between January and August, he said.

The business boom has been reflected in the stock price. Shares of Camden Property Trust are up almost 4 percent since the hurricane.

However, Campo stressed that the company is "absolutely not" jacking up rent prices to meet demand.

"When you have a crisis like this you definitely don't do that. We froze prices at pre-Harvey levels and we didn't differentiate between short-term leases and long-term leases, so same price for whatever you needed," he said.

The company found itself with a lot of vacancies after building too many apartments in anticipation of oil prices remaining high and creating jobs, Campo noted.

However, he said, while business is improving since the storm, the apartment market was already on the road to recovery. That recovery has just accelerated.

"We thought that the Houston apartment market would be back in supply-and-demand balance probably by the end of '18, early '19. What the storm did is just move that up a year."

Meanwhile, finding labor to build new apartments has been "a real challenge."

"If you are trying to build something new now it's going to take six months, a year longer than normally because we just don't have the labor."

Camden owns and operates 8,424 apartment units in Houston and more than 52,000 across the United States.