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The apartment vacancy rate dropped to 2.58 percent from 4.54 percent in March 2007, MarketPointe Realty Advisers reported today.

That means about 3,000 units were vacant of the 113,761 units in the MarketPointe survey.

(The county has almost 400,000 rental units, according to the Department of Finance; MarketPointe tallies the units in buildings containing 25 or more apartments.)

Robert Martinez, a MarketPointe economist, said the higher rate in March was an aberration caused by a flood of 1,400 new rental units soon before the last audit was taken. Now, about 90 percent of those units have been leased, closing the gap, Martinez said.

“[The rental market] may even be benefiting from the trouble in the (for-sale) housing market,” Martinez said this afternoon. “But how significant that is — for us to quantify that, is difficult.”

Average rents on the units surveyed rose $30 since March, from $1,261 to $1,291, the firm reported.

Looking at the pipeline, MarketPointe reported a total of 8,229 units in 41 projects planned for future rental residential developments, but just seven of those projects are in the last stages of obtaining government approval.

From a MarketPointe release:

This indicates that, although there are a significant number of proposed units throughout the county, most are not likely to begin construction in the near future.

The firm broke down the planned projects by community, naming the Interstate 15 corridor the most active submarket, with a proposed 2,552 units currently going through the government approval (entitlement) process. The region with the fewest units proposed is the North County coastal submarket, with 652 units in the entitlement process.

Of the 41 projects in the pipeline, 18 projects and 1,674 units are classified affordable, MarketPointe reported.

KELLY BENNETT

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