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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Apartment: Vacancy Rate Increases, Rents Fall

by Calculated Risk on 4/07/2009 05:39:00 PM

From Reuters: US apartment market worsens with economy--Reis

... The national apartment vacancy rate rose to 7.2 percent in the first quarter, up 0.60 percentage points from the prior quarter and 1.1 percentage points from a year earlier ...

It was the highest vacancy rate since the first quarter of 2002. That was right before the last downturn bottomed out, but Reis expects the picture to get a lot darker as "we are arguably only at the beginning of the current downturn."

Behind the rising vacancy rate is a build-up of available apartments ...

Asking rents fell by 0.6 percent to $1,046 per month, the largest single-quarter decline since Reis began reporting quarterly performance data in 1999.
This puts more pressure on house prices, and also raises more questions about the BLS measure of "Owners' equivalent rent" (that is showing an increase).

With new supply coming online, and families doubling up, it appears rents will decline for some time. Here are some comments from BRE properties in February:
We believe we are looking at a negative rent curve for the next two years.

We believe on a composite basis, market rents in 2009 could fall between 3 and 6% from peak levels in 2008. And the rent cuts in 2010 could be deeper ...