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Landlords nationwide are expected to raise apartment rents by an average of 5 percent this year, making 2007 the third straight year of rent increases, according to a report released today by real estate investment firm Marcus & Millichap.

That would make rents about 14 percent higher than at the end of 2004, according to the report. Rents stayed lower at the start of the decade because so many new homes were being built and former tenants were jumping into the real estate market.

In its coverage of the report’s release, USA Today included a quote from a director at Marcus & Millichap, Hessam Nadji, who expected the gap to exacerbate the coastal cities’ workforce housing crisis:

“This is a national trend. We’re seeing rents rise in the majority of markets, and we see this continuing for at least three years.”

That story included a side-mention of San Diego as an example of a place where flippers bought condos and have started renting them out until the selling market turns around. That supply boost could give renters a break, the story argued.

Last year in San Diego County, rents for one- or two-bedroom units rose 6.2 percent from September 2005 to September 2006, a report published in December by the San Diego County Apartment Association showed. Including studios and three-bedroom units — for which rate changes are usually sharpest — the increase was 5.8 percent, landing at an average rent of $1,237 monthly.

KELLY BENNETT

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