Rental supply and demand may finally be meeting in the middle. In the second quarter, the apartment vacancy rate was unchanged, according to Reis Inc. The rate of 4.3 percent was the same as it was during the first quarter, but lower than the 4.8 percent rate of a year ago.
At the end of 2009, the vacancy rate peaked at 8 percent. As the housing market collapsed and demand began to soar, the vacancy rate tightened, and developers responded by building new rental units.
"It's been an awesome recovery since early 2010," Ryan Severino, senior economist for Reis, told Reuters. The current leveling off of vacancies is a normal consequence of more apartments being brought to market.
During the second quarter, 26,584 new apartments became available, a 22.8 percent increase from the first half of 2011. Severino said that although there are still not enough apartments to meet demand, more new units are scheduled to be completed during the second half of the year. That may result in a slight uptick in the vacancy rate, he added.
But don't look for rental prices to drop as more units become available. Renters nationwide now pay an average of $1,109.73 per month, a 0.6 percent increase from the first quarter. Residents of the Big Apple pay the most, with rental prices in New York City's four largest boroughs --Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx – averaging $3,017.19 per month, a 1 percent increase.
The least expensive rental market is Oklahoma City, where renters pay an average of $571.03 per month.
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