Renters Are Sitting Pretty Despite the Mortgage Crisis

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

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

And while more than a million homes have been lost to foreclosure in the last two years and with banks readying for another 1.5 million repossessions, 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 Riverside-San Bernardino area of southern California, 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.

In the San Francisco Bay area, with one of the highest housing prices in the country, average rents for the third quarter were $1,637, or 1.2 percent higher than the $1,618 they cost per month in the second quarter.

Even Seattle, which is in the throes of a housing boom, 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 tranquility," said Caroline
Latham, Real Facts' president and CEO, in a news release.

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 two and three, at $521 per month and $533 per month, respectively.

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

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

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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