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Apartment rents stable across U.S.

In contrast to houses, no big complexes have seen foreclosure, but costs vary widely.

October 25, 2008|The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — While homeowners may be weathering rising mortgage rates or dropping property values, apartment renters have a bit of relief.

Apartment rents, as well as occupancy, were virtually unchanged across the country in the third quarter of 2008, according to RealFacts, a San Francisco-based apartment data research firm.

Although more than 1 million homes have been lost to foreclosure in the last two years and 1.5 million repossessions may be ahead, apartment buildings have remained solvent. To date, there have been virtually no foreclosures on large apartment buildings, according to RealFacts.

A clear picture of just how level apartment rentals remain is evident in looking at the western United States.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, with one of the highest-priced housing markets in the country, average rents for the third quarter were $1,637 a month, or 1.2% higher than the $1,618 average in the second quarter.

In the Riverside-San Bernardino area, which has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, rents were $1,157 in the third quarter, slightly down from $1,162 in the second. And in the Las Vegas area, also hit hard by foreclosures, rents were $887 in the third quarter and $886 in the second.

Even Seattle, which has weathered the downturn better than some cities, has seen stable rents: $1,117 per month in the third quarter, $1,115 in the second.

"Compared to the volatility of the stock market, the world of rental apartments is the epitome of tranquillity," said Caroline Latham, RealFacts' chief executive.

Stability, however, varies widely in price from one city to another.

The most expensive place to live in a large apartment complex is the greater New York metropolitan area, where the average rent is $2,272 per month. The Bridgeport-Stamford area of Connecticut is second, with rents at $2,179, and Boston was third, at $1,905.

Flint, Mich., offers the least-expensive place in the nation to rent an apartment, at $459 per month, and two cities in Georgia -- Albany and Macon -- were Nos. 2 and 3, at $521 and $533 per month, respectively.

In the western United States, Albuquerque was the least-expensive place to rent, at $732 per month -- compared with $727 in the second quarter, and the San Jose-Sunnyvale, Calif., area, which includes Silicon Valley, was the most expensive, with rents at $1,708, slightly up from $1,691.

The rent data collected by RealFacts come from more than 3 million apartments in complexes of 100 units or more.

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