Inland Empire rental market tighter than LA's, study says

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The Inland Empire is no longer the refuge it's been from Southern California's tight rental housing market, according to a new study.

Though rents in the Inland Empire are still far cheaper, they're rising as fast or faster than in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, according to a new report from the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development at UC Riverside's School of Business  It also found that the Inland Empire has a lower vacancy rate. 

Only 2.4 percent of rental units in the Inland Empire were vacant compared to 3.3 percent in Los Angeles County and 3.2 percent in Orange County in the fourth quarter of last year, the study says.  Meanwhile, the average rent went up by 5 percent in the Inland Empire, the same growth rate as in Los Angeles County and nearly twice as much as in Orange County.

The Inland Empire's low vacancy rates are the result of not enough apartments being built. Traditionally, as people moved inland they bought single-family homes, but as people have gotten priced out of those, they’ve turned to a apartments.

“The inability of people to become homeowners there has meant more people are putting pressure on the rental market, and there’s not been a supply response, " said Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research at the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development.

If Inland Empire rents keep going up, Kleinhenz says workers will move somewhere cheaper.

“At some point those households have to think about whether they want to stay here," he said.

If workers do not stay, all of those warehouses and logistics centers in the Inland Empire could have a harder time finding workers.

“There is a genuine need for more housing across much of California, and nowhere is the severity of the situation more apparent than in the Inland Empire," said Kleinhenz.

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