Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lower SoCal rents say 'Go West, young person, get cheaper rents'

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An exodus of renters in Los Angeles, job losses in Orange County and an oversupply of housing and cheap foreclosed homes in the Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Sounds like SoCal is shaping up as a renter's market.
by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - There's an exodus of renters in Los Angeles, job losses in Orange County and an oversupply of housing and cheap foreclosed homes in the Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

Sounds like it's time to Go West, young person, and get a cheap rental home.

The University Lusk Center for Real Estate says the recession is putting a beat down on rents in sunny Southern California -- in some places for the first time in 13 years.

The center says unemployed tenants are moving away or sharing quarters and buying cheap foreclosed homes as an oversupply of rental housing finds landlords wringing their hands.

In Los Angeles County alone, 41,000 people migrated out of apartments last year -- compared to the only 29,000 who exited in over the past five years, according to Delores Conway, director of the center's Casden Forecast.


It's a trend here to stay, at least for the year, the center says.

"The dramatic changes in the economy are taking their toll on landlords, who are lowering rents or giving concessions just to keep their units occupied." Conway said.

And that makes it a renter's market with more elbow room to haggle.

Many renters became first-time homebuyers as they snapped up new and nearly new foreclosed homes built with Levittown like fervor in the Inland Empire during boom times about a half decade ago.

Only San Diego is escaping low rents and occupancy rates. Rents actually rose 1 percent in the area last year.

Here's a quick snapshot to pinpoint locations of cheaper rents.

Los Angeles County -- Rents tumbled an average 3.8 percent last year as weak demand in Tinseltown's Hollywood region erupted from subleased condos competing with apartments. Long Beach and San Gabriel became even more affordable in a trend likely to continue this year.

Orange County -- Rents dropped for the first time in 13 years, by an average 2 percent as still-high home prices and a credit squeeze put more shelter-seekers in market but job losses exerted downward pressure on rents. The center said rents may fall more than one percent this year until the oversupply clears.

Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties) -- This region showed the largest drop in occupancy rates in 10 years as rents slipped 4 percent. The areas was also plagued by high unemployment, too many apartments, and renters finding better deals in foreclosures. Weak demand should begin in 2010, the center says, as businesses seek affordable locations for their workforces.

San Diego County -- Only San Diego County saw rents move up, by one percent, as occupancies held firm at 95 percent. Strength in the market comes from military bases, biotech, high tech and higher education. Even with subleased condos competing with high-end rentals downtown. The area is deemed one of the nation's strongest rental markets and should see another 1 percent increase or more in rents through 2010.

• Read more rental market stories from the Deadline Newsroom.

• Get into DeadlineNews.Com's Tenant, Landlord archives and learn how to find good rental properties as well as negotiate for the best deal.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group, including DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site, and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. Perkins is also a National Real Estate Examiner. All the news that really hits home from three locations -- that's location, location, location!

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