U.S. apartment vacancies dropped for the first time in almost three years in the third quarter, suggesting the trend of people moving in with family or friends might be abating, Reis Inc.said today.
The national vacancy rate fell to 7.2 percent from 7.9 percent a year earlier and 7.8 percent in the second quarter, the New York-based research firm said. It was the lowest rate since 2008’s fourth quarter, when it was 6.7 percent, and the first year-over-year drop since 2007’s fourth quarter. Vacancies reached a three-decade high of 8 percent late last year.
Rental demand usually goes up during the second and third quarters, when people tend to lease apartments, said Victor Calanog, director of research at Reis. The U.S. recession interrupted that pattern starting two years ago as widespreadjob cuts prompted many people to move in with parents or friends instead of renting their own apartments.
“Those guys are starting to move back to the rental market,” Calanog said in a telephone interview. “What we’re seeing might be these folks who realized, ‘Hey, I love my father and mother, but I don’t think I can live with them forever. I’ll take a chance on a yearlong lease and maybe I can find a job in six to nine months.’”
The change in occupied space, known as net absorption, rose by 84,382 units, a record since Reis began keeping the data in 1999, the company said. Net absorption totaled 157,788 apartments from January through September, compared with almost 21,000 units vacated a year earlier.
Signing of apartment leases has risen as a surge in home foreclosures forced many people to rent and landlords offered concessions amid a weak economy. Job growth will determine whether the apartment market continues to improve, Calanog said.
“If the pace of job growth is really lackluster, then I wouldn’t be shocked if vacancies suddenly rose in the fourth quarter,” Calanog.
About 90 percent of the rise in net absorption came from leasing up existing apartments, Reis said. New properties came to market almost half empty, and the total supply of new stock was the smallest since 2007’s second quarter. The 21,906 new units that came to market in the third quarter had an average vacancy rate of 60 percent, said Reis.
Landlords’ asking rents climbed to $1,037, little changed from $1,033 a year earlier and $1,032 in the second quarter, according to Reis. Actual rents paid by tenants, known as effective rents, rose to an average $980 from $971 a year earlier and $974 in the second quarter
New Haven, Connecticut, had the lowest vacancy rate in the third quarter, at 2.3 percent, followed by New York City; Long Island, New York; San Jose; and Central New Jersey, according to Reis. New Haven is home to Yale University.
The Reis survey measures about 9.1 million apartments.
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