WSJ: Apartment Glut, Get Off Your Butt

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According to today's WSJ, apartment vacancies increased and rents declined so much this Spring that we now have an apartment glut.

From the sound of it, landlords can't even give their apartments away. "With unemployment at 9.8% -- a 26-year high," says the Journal, "more would-be renters are doubling up or moving in with family and friends during periods of job loss."

Rental markets such as San Jose and New York have plummeted more than 6 percent in the past year, and we haven't hit bottom yet.

That means deals for renters. For example, the Journal interviews Jennifer Hyman, a recent Harvard Business School grad who got her rental for $500 less per month that the previous occupant-plus an additional first month free. That's equivalent to an 8 percent rent reduction, so Ms. Hyman effectively got her apartment for more than 25 percent off the listed price.Anyone looking to sign a lease in the next six months should be able to knock 10-20 percent off the asking price without too much trouble. It might even make sense to break your current lease.

Smaller cities also saw big rises in vacancies, including Raleigh, N.C., and Memphis, Tenn., so this phenomenon is not restricted to the Northeast or West Coast.

At the same time, with such low interest rates and a first-time buyer credit, many would-be renters have been dipping their toes into the buyer's market. But that won't change until the middle of next year.

So hold those landlords' feet to the fire while you still can.
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