Rents Continue Nationwide Free Fall

Conventional wisdom says it's far better to own than rent. But the real-estate sparked recession has taught us that conventional wisdom doesn't always hold up, especially in the face of extreme bubbles and the bursts that follow.

The rental market is proof of that.

In market after market, a new report reveals, rental rates continue to fall, making apartment living more affordable than at anytime in recent years.The report, by RealFacts, shows that the average monthly rent nationwide is $933, down more than $60 from a year ago. What's more, in some markets, such as Southern California, the survey shows many rental property owners are coming up with all sorts of incentives to woo new tenants-everything from a rent-free first month to flat-screen televisions.

Denise Castellucci, who speaks for RealFacts, tells the website, "Everybody's freaking out and trying to bring in people anyway they can."

In all, 37 markets were tracked for the survey. All but two (Baltimore and Oklahoma City) showed rents continuing to fall for the fifth quarter in a row.

Rents are dropping primarily because unemployment continues to run high. You can see this reflected in occupancy rates that are also falling. For those who have a job, the rental market offers lots of new opportunities. And, for those for whom the burden of home ownership is too great, renting is now a more viable option than in the past.

There are some dire predictions out there that rental rates could see double-digit hikes when the economy rebounds because apartment building has ground to a halt (along with most building). Sounds like a good reason to sign a lease now, if possible, and lock in a bargain rent while you can.
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