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

There's No Such Thing as a Free Month

May 10, 2000|DARYL STRICKLAND | Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670 and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com

It's been nearly three years since Jay Skenderian has seen an Orange County landlord who was willing to give potential tenants a free month's rent as a move-in incentive.

"They don't need to give them," said Skenderian, a principal in Morgan-Skenderian Investment Real Estate Group, a Newport Beach apartment brokerage. The market's just too tight, he said.

Rents in large Orange County apartment complexes rose to a record $1,071 per month in the first quarter, jumping 9% over the same period last year, according to RealFacts, a Novato research firm. The vacancy rate remained essentially the same at 3.2% from 3.3% in last year's first quarter.

The survey, measuring complexes with 65 units or more, found the highest monthly rents in Newport Beach, at an average of $1,887, and the lowest in Stanton, at $860. The booming economy, fueled by continuing job growth and surging home prices, all have enabled landlords to keep their units filled. They also have been able to steadily increase rents, which have risen on average over the past two years by $140 per month. "You're seeing big jumps in rents on a lot of units," Skenderian said. A dearth of available land has kept the pace of new development far behind demand. "The tenants don't have any other choice."

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