Attention apartment hunters: Rents in the Hartford area are dropping.
A new report Thursday showed that average monthly rents in the Hartford area — within 10 miles of the center of the city — fell 2 percent in the first three months of this year to $921, from $937 in the last three months of 2009, according to Rentjungle.com, an apartment search engine and research firm.
The slide comes on top of a 3 percent decline in the last three months of 2009, compared with the previous three months.
Apartment hunters have more of an edge now thanks to the deepest recession in a generation. Job losses are forcing more people to move in with their parents or double-up with roommates, slicing deeply into the pool of potential tenants.
Declining rents are affecting not only Hartford but also other markets in Connecticut and across the country as employers remain restrained about hiring. Connecticut's unemployment now stands at 9.1 percent, below the nation's 9.7 percent.
Not all markets in Connecticut are declining, however. Of the dozen in the Rentjungle.com report, the biggest gains were in New Britain and Waterbury, up 3 percent in the first three months of this year. Meriden had the biggest dip, down 4 percent.
Nationally, the average rent was flat in that period.
While lower rents are a boon for apartment seekers, they add to the pressure on landlords. In addition to lowering rents, some landlords have also offered concessions — such as months of free rent, gift cards, even heat and hot water — to woo tenants, even as their own expenses may have remained the same or gone up.
"The Hartford market looks like it is still showing some weakness," said Jon Pastor, chief executive of Rentjungle.com, based in Pittsburgh.
Despite Thursday's report, one major manager of apartment units in the Hartford area said there are some signs of a pick-up. Those signs aren't in rent increases, but in landlords pulling back on concessions, said Marie Mazzotta, president of West Hartford-based Konover Residential Corp., which manages more than 1,000 units in the Hartford area.
"That shows the market isn't as weak as it was," Mazzotta said.
Concessions are getting particularly scarce for some apartments, particularly in Manchester, Rocky Hill and Glastonbury, Mazzotta said.
According to Thursday's Rentjungle.com report, average rent declines in the Hartford area were deepest for three-bedroom units, down 7 percent, to $1,062. Two-bedroom units dropped 4 percent, to $938, while one-bedroom units slid 2 percent, to $776.
The rents are based on a survey of 3,000 advertisements per month in the Hartford area.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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