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Apartment Rents in West Increase 4%

April 20, 2006|From the Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Apartment rents are increasing more rapidly in many of the West's major markets as the economy produces more jobs and rising interest rates prevent more people from buying homes, according to statistics being released today.

The average apartment rent in March rose by at least 4% in nine of the 20 Western markets surveyed by RealFacts, a Novato, Calif.-based real estate research firm.

Rents rose fastest in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, which have become a refuge for people who can't afford to live in the Los Angeles area -- the West's most expensive rental market, according to RealFacts.

Apartment rents in the Inland Empire have climbed 7.3% in the last year to an average of $1,097 in March, RealFacts said. Renters paid an average of $1,484 for an apartment in Los Angeles and Orange counties, a 6.7% increase from last year.

Southern California has ranked among the West's hottest rental markets for several years.

But landlords also appear to be gaining more leverage in once-slumping markets such as the San Francisco Bay Area, where a revived high-tech industry and high-priced homes are fueling rental demand.

In the five-county Bay Area tracked by RealFacts, rents averaged $1,374 in March, a 5% annual increase, while rents in Santa Clara County -- Silicon Valley's hub -- averaged $1,359, a 5.8% increase.

Rent increases also are accelerating in Seattle and in Nevada's major markets, RealFacts said.

Colorado emerged as one of the major exceptions to the general rental trend in the West. Average rents in Denver rose by less than 1% to an average of $856, while rents in Colorado Springs dipped by nearly 1% to $711.

Tucson had the West's least expensive apartment rents at $626 in March, unchanged from a year earlier.

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