Apartment vacancy in state reaches 32-month high with rents declining

SoCal counties report the smallest rent decreases, Bay Area counties show the largest

Apartment Rents in California Drop 5% From Peak
(Getty)

Typical apartment rents across the Golden State have slipped for four straight months, with vacancies at a nearly three-year high.

The typical California rent in November was $1,917 a month after a steady decrease since July, as the number of empty units hit a 32-month high, the Orange County Register reported, citing figures from Apartmentlist.com.

Average rents are now 5 percent less than peak pricing in August of last year, when tenants during the pandemic competed for larger living spaces.

Statewide, 5.2 percent of rentals were empty last month, the highest vacancy rate since March 2021, and above a low of 3.4 percent the following October.

The numbers reflect a new “near-normalcy” in the rental market, according to the Register. The high cost of renting, plus the state’s shrinking population and modest additions to supply from new construction, have created more empty apartments.

At the same time, typical rents across the state are up 21 percent in six years, while the vacancy rate is a hair above its 5 percent average since 2017.

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California rent in November was 43 percent higher than the typical U.S. rent of $1,340.

Of the state’s 14 largest counties, San Francisco, San Mateo and Alameda in the Bay Area had the largest declines in rents from peak pricing, while Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange had among the smallest, according to the Register.

In San Francisco, the median monthly rent in November was $2,122, off 19 percent from the peak of July 2019 and down 12 percent since 2017.

In Los Angeles County, the typical rent was $1,900, 4 percent off peak of August 2022, but up 15 percent in six years. In OC, the rent was $2,641, 1 percent off the peak of July 2022, but up 34 percent in six years. 

Apartment rents across Southern California are expected to rise up to 4 percent through 2025, according to a USC report.

— Dana Bartholomew

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