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PHOENIX-The Q2 multifamily statistics show a metro area continuing to reel from excesses of overbuilding and overconfidence that happened in the mid-2000s. However, beneath the news of sagging occupancy and rents, those in the know tell GlobeSt.com some areas have struggled into positive territory.

“It’s submarket to submarket and even building to building, as far as concessions, how rents are holding up and what the vacancy is,” says vice president Bret Zinn with Apartment Realty Advisors’ Phoenix office. “The west side of town and properties under 100 units are really getting hit the hardest.”

MPF Research’s Q2 report shows an overall metro occupancy of 87.5%, down close to 9 percentages points from its high of 96% two years ago. Effective rents were down to $726 per month, a decrease of close to 7% from the same time last year. To top it off, the report notes, the metro area is losing jobs at an annual rate of 140,000. RealData/Apartment Insights in Phoenix shows similar numbers, with an 87% occupancy area wide, stabilized gross rents at $780 and stabilized net rents at $652.

Now for the good news. The east side, namely Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale and Tempe, trended upward in the previous quarter. The average occupancy in these cities combined was just shy of 91% and absorption was positive at 700 units during the first half of 2009.

Alon Shnitzer, associate vice president with Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Service’s Phoenix office says one reason for the east side’s strength is lack of construction. As a result, “one or two of those submarkets are starting to come back,” he explains.

On the west side, however, things are vastly different. Areas such as Goodyear, Avondale and Peoria, have a great deal of excess product on the market due to overbuilding during the mid-2000s. “The far west side is where the bulk of that construction has been,” remarks Greg Willett, vice president, research and analysis for the Carrollton, TX-based MPF Research.

Zinn and Shnitzer are also in agreement that one of the main reasons for the west side hit, especially closer to the metro center, is due to population and jobs. The areas just west of Interstate 17 have tended to attracted immigrants, because of its older product and less expensive rents. But many of the jobs that attracted immigrants to the area in the first place are gone, meaning the tenants are going as well.

Furthermore, “the immigration reform act really impacted those submarkets, and those are the ones seeing the most amount of pain,” Shnitzer comments. “Because the jobs, which are primarily in construction, no longer exist, they’ve been forced to move to other states or back to their home countries.”

A move out of the current situation isn’t going to happen any time soon. Shnitzer, for one, thinks it could be a year before real recovery kicks in.

But the brokers acknowledge it isn’t all gloom and doom. Zinn points out that second quarter figures for Phoenix typically take dips, notwithstanding bad economic conditions. Furthermore, “the good news is that maybe we are here at the bottom in terms of rents and vacancies,” he says.

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