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Apartment Rents Rise In Hartford Area

Kenneth R. Gosselin

January 04, 2011

The apartment rental market in Hartford showed modest improvement in 2010, with average monthly rents increasing 4.3 percent in the last three months of 2010, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to a new report Tuesday.

From October through December, the average monthly rent for an apartment in Hartford increased to $977, from $937 a year earlier, according to Rentjungle.com, an apartment search engine and research firm that tracks rents based on advertisements.

But the gains were uneven throughout the year: strong through spring and summer but weakening in the fall. The average rent in Harford, which includes an area 10 miles from the city's center, rose as high as $1,036 in July-September, but then fell nearly 6 percent, to $977, in the last three months of the year.

The decline at the end of last year came as the outlook for job growth in the state remained anemic for well into 2011.

"Rents were up significantly in the first three quarters of 2010 in most markets," said Jon Pastor, Rentjungle.com's chief executive. "The fourth quarter saw a slight flattening of that trend, but nothing that would be considered a reversal."

Rentjungle.com's survey is based on 3,000 advertisements a month in Hartford, and 36,000 throughout Connecticut.

Brian Lemire, incoming president of the Connecticut Apartment Association, said he believes the Hartford market is in much better shape than it was a year ago, but said has not yet seen increases comparable to those outlined in Tuesday's report on properties that he manages.

That may be because he manages larger and, in some cases, more upscale apartments. The increase, he said, may be driven by smaller complexes and multi-family houses.

Lemire said fewer concessions such as a month of free rent are being offered, and there is less turnover than a year ago. More people may be staying put because they are feeling a bit more secure in their jobs, and there haven't been any major layoffs recently, he said.

"People may have a better mindset than they did in the past," Lemire said.

Although the job market remains weak, the demand for apartments also could be strengthening as people displaced from foreclosed houses look for apartments. Also, potential homebuyers may be putting off purchases to wait out the economic recovery, choosing apartments instead.

All sizes of apartments in Hartford showed year-over-year gains in the Rentjungle.com survey with one-bedroom apartments increasing the most, by an average of 9.7 percent, to $841 from $795 a year ago.

But compared with the third quarter, average monthly rents in the fourth quarter rose only for one-bedroom apartments, easing back for both two- and three-bedroom units, the survey found.

Elsewhere, the rent picture in Connecticut remained mixed. Tuesday's report included 10 other cities and towns in the state with three Meriden, Middletown and Naugatuck seeing year-over-year declines. Naugatuck saw the steepest drop at 8.5 percent.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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