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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / REAL ESTATE

O.C. Rents Rise 9.5%; Growth Is 1st in Region, 5th in U.S.

August 25, 2000|DARYL STRICKLAND

Finding an apartment, let alone a reasonably priced one, isn't getting any easier in Orange County.

During the second quarter, as demand for rentals ran well ahead of construction, rents in Orange County's largest apartment buildings grew 9.5% from a year earlier, according to M/PF Research in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton. It was the steepest increase in Southern California and the fifth-highest nationwide.

But that gain seems a pittance compared with rentals in the Bay Area, where three metropolitan areas were the highest in the nation. San Jose rose 32%, followed by San Francisco at 29% and Oakland at 23%.

The Northern California areas helped drive the West region's average growth to 11.6%, about twice the rate of the nation's next best performing region, the Northeast.

In Southern California, Orange County's rate of rent growth was the fifth highest in the nation. Los Angeles finished sixth at 8.1%, San Diego was seventh at 7.8% and the Inland Empire came in ninth at 7.6%. Much of the growth in Riverside and San Bernardino spilled over from tenants in Orange and Los Angeles counties seeking cheaper rents.

The survey, which covers 1.8 million units in 57 metropolitan areas, shows the apartment market is hotter across the country than it has been in years, said Ron Witten, M/PF's president.

As in Southern California, job growth resulting from the longest period of economic prosperity in U.S. history is driving demand, along with rising prices for single-family homes, which make renting a cheaper option.

Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670 and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com.

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