Rent Growth in U.S. Slows in First Quarter, Vacancies Down Slightly

From the Wall Street Journal’s April 2, 2015 issue:

Apartment rental increases slowed in the first quarter from a year earlier, but the move is more likely a temporary blip than the beginning of a long-term respite for renters.

Nationally, average rents rose 0.6% to $1,131.72 during the first quarter, down slightly from a 0.8% rise in the first quarter a year ago, according to data from Reis Inc., a real-estate research firm. Over the last 12 months, rents increased 3.5%…

Across the country, the apartment vacancy rate declined slightly to 4.1% from 4.2%, the first decline since the beginning of 2014. “We, along with a lot of other people, thought we’d turned the corner and were going to see vacancy rates rising” due to new supply, said Mr. Severino.

But the flood of new apartments that economists expected didn’t materialize, partly due to the extreme winter. New construction declined during the quarter to 28,812 units, the lowest level of completions since the first quarter of 2013…

Still, in some markets such as Houston, there were early signs of supply pushing vacancy rates up. The vacancy rate there ticked up 0.2% to 5.8% over the last year, according to Reis.