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GREENVILLE, SC-Apartment vacancy rates here and in Spartanburg, SC are at 10.5%, the highest reported for this South Carolina area since Carolina Real Data began tracking the local market in 1994.

November vacancies are up from 9.3% in May and 8.1% the previous November, according to the latest findings in the Greenville-Spartanburg Apartment Report. Vacancy rates had been gradually declining in recent years, but starting in November 2000, vacancies have increased sharply.

Michelle Westbrook, a multi-family analyst for Carolinas Real Data, says in the report the lower rates are related to increased supply of apartments.

“The annual absorption for this past year, 78 units, is well below the 614 units that were absorbed in 2000,” Westbrook says. “The low demand combined with the 340 new apartment units that were added to the market in the past year has caused the vacancy rate to increase.”

She says that due to the current economic recession, the predicted annual absorption has been adjusted slightly to about 500 units to 600 units for the upcoming year. “If absorption reaches this predicted level of demand over the next year, the vacancy rate could improve slightly to the 9% to 10% range,” the analyst says.

Developers built 340 apartment units between May and November in the Greenville and Spartanburg market. Some 248 more units are under construction and an additional 672 units are on the drawing table.

The December report surveyed 28,086 apartment units in 186 apartment communities. In November 2000, there were 27,471 apartment units. The average rent was $578 for an average apartment size of 928 sf.

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