A downturn in suburban rents, occupancy levels

“One month’s free rent” signs dotted the roadside last week as I traversed Lake County on my way to Fox Lake. The signs registered more vividly than the passing place names: Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, North Chicago, Park City, Gurnee, Gages Lake, Wildwood, Grayslake, Hainesville, Round Lake, Long Lake and Fox Lake.

A recent market study summarized in Crain’s Chicago Real Estate Daily reports a slump in the suburban apartment rental market:

Rents at suburban apartment buildings fell in the fourth quarter for the first time in more than two years, while occupancies edged lower for the first time since summer 2010, according to a report from Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago-based consulting firm.

The median net rent of $1.17 a square foot in the fourth quarter was up from $1.15 a year earlier, even though it fell from $1.18 in the third quarter, according to the report. The suburban occupancy rate was 94 percent, vs. 94.3 percent in the third quarter and 92.9 percent a year earlier.

I don’t recall seeing any free rent offers in Round Lake, but then my Spanish isn’t very good.

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