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Rents in Southland Rising at Brisk Pace

A housing market with tight supply and high prices pushes more Southern Californians to shop for rentals.

October 17, 2002|Glenda McCarthy | Times Staff Writer

Apartment rents climbed faster in Southern California during the last three months than in other areas across the West, an industry research group said Wednesday.

Average rent in Southern California rose to $1,167 at the end of September, up 3.2% from June and up 4.6% from a year earlier, said RealFacts of Novato. In contrast, Northern California's average rent declined 1.9% to $1,196, down 8.8% from a year earlier, the report said.

As the housing market steams ahead, shrinking supply and rising prices push more first-time buyers in Southern California to shop for rentals. In addition, Southern California is creating jobs at a faster pace than other areas, according to state figures released this week.

In Los Angeles County, the average apartment rent rose 3.3%, the biggest jump in two years and the largest increase in Southern California. The rise to an average $1,295 rent at the end of September marked a 5.8% increase from a year ago.

Santa Monica was the priciest of all communities in the West, with an average rent of $2,487, RealFacts said. In Orange County, the average apartment rent edged up 1.6% to $1,232, the largest quarterly increase in more than a year.

Rents will continue to rise in Los Angeles County in the months ahead, but not at the same pace, said Harvey E. Green, president of Marcus & Millichap, a real estate brokerage specializing in apartment sales. "Demand for apartments is still strong," he said. "Supply and demand have been kept pretty well in balance."

Occupancy rates rose only slightly throughout the region that stretches to Colorado. Orange County chalked up the biggest increase, to 95.6% from 94.4% in June. The occupancy rate in Los Angeles County declined a slight 0.3 percentage point to 95.6%.

In the Inland Empire, where construction of apartments remains strong, the average rent rose 1.4% to $875; the occupancy rate edged up to 95.5%. Rents in the region have surged 30% in four years and are up 4.9% in the last year. In San Bernardino County, the average rent was $745.

In Ventura County, the average rent fell 1.1% during the quarter to $1,216.

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Times staff writer Roger Vincent contributed to this report.

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