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ORANGE COUNTY, CA-Zooming home prices have helped the apartment market by making apartments in the county more competitive against homes for purchase, according to a new report by Hendricks & Partners.

The quarterly report says move-ins outnumbered move-outs by 614 units in the county during the second quarter, a marked improvement from the second quarter of last year, when move-outs numbered move-ins by 29 units.

The report pegged the overall average vacancy rate at 5.5% for the quarter, up from 3.6% a year earlier, explaining that the higher rate reflected the nearly 3,600 new units completed since the beginning of 2001. Orange County’s average rent increased only 1.9% for the one-year period ending June 2002 to $1,212 from $1,190, falling from last year’s increase of 8.1%.

The investment market remained strong, according to the study, which showed the average price per unit rose to $96,532 from $76,380 in the second quarter of 2001. The volume of sales remained fairly stable at 20 properties sold, compared with 19 in the year-ago period.

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