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Published: Wednesday, 2/17/2010

Apartment vacancy rate up

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Metro Toledo's rental market is feeling the lingering effects of both the general economy and the housing crisis, according to the latest survey of the local apartment sector by Toledo commercial realty firm CB Richard Ellis/Reichle Klein.

Vacancy rates across the metro area were 10.7 percent for the last half of 2009, up from 10.1 percent for the same period a year ago, in the survey of more than 25,400 rental units.

Average vacancies rose slightly year-over-year, and average rents for those properties increased as well, from $522 to $553.

Harlan Reichle, the firm's senior managing director, said the increase in average rents was probably not as indicative of the overall health of the local apartment market as is the vacancy rate, which he said was "probably lower than some people might have expected."

The rate, although largely stable across the region as a whole, shifted within different sectors of the metro area, according to the study. The largest increase in vacancy rates occurred within newer properties in Perrysburg, Northwood, and Rossford, rising from 6.59 percent a year ago to 15.8 percent during the second half of 2009.

The vacancy rate in north Toledo also climbed significantly, going from 15.1 percent in 2008 to 22.9 percent in 2009, the study found.

Mr. Reichle noted in the report that much of that rise probably was caused by the liquidation of one large apartment owner's holdings last year.

Vacancy rates within the central business district fell from 13.4 percent to 9.1 percent, the study found.

"The apartment market, probably as much or more than any other property type, is very sensitive to the job market," Mr. Reichle said. "Given where we are on the job front, this isn't unusual."

Joe Goodell is one of the largest apartment owners in the metro area, with more than 3,200 apartments under ownership with his business partner. Mr. Goodell said rents are "very stagnant" in the area because of the economy, but his vacancy rates have hovered in the 5 percent range because of the investments he and his partner have made in their properties.

"They aren't able to pay their rent because a lot of [tenants] are unemployed," Mr. Goodell said. "We need a better economy. I'm very positive on the apartment business. I think it's a great business, and our occupancy obviously shows that. But we spend a lot of money on it."

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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