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ORLANDO-Though the Q4 multifamily news out of the area isn’t gee-whiz-gangbusters, neither is it doom and gloom. Despite a 10.3% vacancy area-wide–up 150 basis points from the year before–and a 1.5% fall in rents indicated in Marcus & Millichap’s Q3 Apartment Research Market Update, Orlando has seen the worst on the multifamily side.

“We’re beginning to see recovery. Some house sales are stabilizing, we’ve seen values stop dropping and more transitions on the single family side,” comments Stephen St. Clair, vice president, investments, with Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services’ Orlando office. Construction has also all but stopped – in 2009, a grand total of 840 units are being delivered to market, down from the 3,100 units that went online last year.

But right now, there is still the jobless recovery to be reckoned with. St. Clair acknowledges the unemployment numbers are alarming; the state lost 45,000 jobs during 2009, with much of that construction-related. “I don’t know where the light is with unemployment,” St. Clair confesses. “We’re not seeing a manufacturing plant come to town, or GM putting a plant here.” The only way to depress vacancy, he tells GlobeSt.com is when the tourism industry gets back on track.

“The major tourists attractions here will re-hire, and the vast majority of the jobs don’t offer pay that would be conducive to buying a house,” St. Clair explains. “These will be apartment renters.”

In the meantime, St. Clair says vacancies will likely stay pretty steady, though concessions are likely to be reduced. “In the properties I’m trying to sell, the concessions aren’t nearly as aggressive as they were a year ago,” he comments. He says in mid-2010, property owners could nudge rents up slightly.

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