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LOS ANGELES, CA-Apartment rents in Los Angeles have “resumed their upward climb,” while rents in Orange County are struggling for small gains and the Inland Empire posted the largest second quarter rent increase of any major apartment market in the western region.

Those are some of the conclusions from RealFacts, which says the average rent for an apartment in Los Angeles County is now $1,248, up 1.2% from the average in March.

RealFacts called the change over the past year “almost normal” for the first two quarters of this year, compared with the flat rents of the last half of 2001.

Average rents vary widely in the county, however, the research service cautioned. For example, a typical class A unit in Santa Monica Class rents for more than $2,300 a month, while the average asking rent in the northern L.A. County city of Lancaster is just $686. Downtown living is one of the factors boosting the average in L.A., according to the report, which cites the growing number ogf conversions of old office buildings into “pricey lofts.”

Rents in Orange County, by contrast to L.A. rose last quarter by only 0.4%, from $1,209 to $1,215. RealFacts called it “in of just for the quarter.

In the Inland Empire, which consists of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, average rents rose 2% to $857, which is a record high. The only two other areas in the western region that posted average rent increases above 1% in the second quarter were San Diego and Los Angeles counties.

The report cited California Department of Finance statistics showing that Riverside County was the second fastest growing county and San Bernardino County the eighth fastest growing in California last year, both with good employment growth. “The fact that many residents commute to Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties has helped keep demand for apartments high,” the RealFacts report says.

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