The nation’s apartment market deteriorated in the first quarter as rising unemployment dashed landlords’ hopes that the housing downturn would create a soft landing by bringing former homeowners back as renters.

The vacancy rate for the top 79 U.S. markets jumped to an average 7.2%, a full percentage point increase over the past two quarters and the highest level since the first quarter of 2004, according to statistics from Reis Inc., a New York real-estate-research firm.

The jump in vacancies came even as landlords reduced rents. Asking rents, which exclude concessions and are often the starting point for rent negotiations, …

Source: Wall Street Journal

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