You could make a case on both sides of the rental market.

On one hand: you could say that buying a home is still an expensive proposition, and the uncertainty ahead would keep the tenant pool brimming.

On the other hand: current tenants may be buying homes to live in, plus the return of investors buying homes to rent have increased the supply of available rentals.

The U-T’s article today says that vacancy is up, and the average rents were slightly lower Y-O-Y:

An excerpt:

The ongoing recession is placing a strain on the region’s landlords, as tenants double up to save money or abandon the rental market to take advantage of bargains on foreclosed homes.

The latest half-yearly survey from the San Diego County Apartment Association shows a 5.4 percent vacancy rate for the region, a rise of 1.8 percentage points from its fall 2008 survey and 0.6 points from a year earlier.

As tenants seek out rentals with lower rates, properties less than six years old reported the highest number of vacancies in the recent survey. Complexes more than 25 years old had the highest occupancies.

The average rental rate countywide was up slightly to $1,192 from $1,188 in the fall 2008 survey, but down 0.7 percent from a year ago, when the average was $1,201. The average was mathematically weighted to take into account the dominance of one-and two-bedroom units in the marketplace.

The survey, which was mailed to nearly 6,000 rental property owners and managers throughout the county, received responses representing more than 33,000 units. Michelle Slingerland, spokeswoman for the association, blamed higher vacancies on high unemployment.

“Historically, the job market affects vacancy rates,” Slingerland said. “People are having to take on roommates or they are moving in with family. If supply increases, rental rates will go down accordingly.”  

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