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SAN DIEGO-Average apartment rents have nudged over the $1,000 mark in the county for the first time ever, according to a new report.

The average rental rate was $1,025 a month earlier this month, according to a survey by MarketPoint Realty Advisors. Rents in the county are now 52% over their 1996 levels and nearly 9% higher than a year ago.

Vacancy factors falling below 1% — many renters are on waiting lists — and decreased construction of affordable units are the major reasons for the runup in prices. The average was $1,088 in the North County, with rents in South County averaging about $964. But another statistic is more telling: complexes built before 1998 averaged $989 a month, while complexes built in 2001 average $1,709.

The area with the highest vacancy is the North Coastal area, which posted a 5.78% vacancy. The Carlsbad, Vista and Oceanside area had the next highest vacancy — 1.91%.

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