Our annual property managers survey, representing approximately 29,000 apartment communities and more than 5 million rental units helps us to identify and provide insight on trends on the rental market outlook. In the most recent survey, 45 percent of property managers reported that vacancy rates are lower today than in 2010 and they predict that rents will rise in 2012. The median predicted rent rise through Q3 2012 is 3 percent.

As to what is responsible for declining vacancy rates, the survey exposed that while job market conditions are still the single greatest factor in determining vacancies, they are less impactful than in recent years. Only 52 percent of property managers reported job loss as a significant factor affecting apartment rental vacancy rates, down from 70 percent in 2010 and 90 percent in 2009. Additionally, according to the 2011 survey, 46 percent of property managers stated that vacancies were affected by tenants who could not afford their rent or were trying to save money, down from 59 percent in 2010. As to tenants doubling up or taking on roommates as a factor driving vacancies, only 23 percent of property managers cited that in 2011 as compared to 48% of respondents in 2010. This point to an increase in decoupling of renter households.

Stay tuned for our next post on what rental property managers told us about where they stand on concessions and incenting renters to sign on the dotted line.