Report: SD County renters may see slight rise in rates

San Diego County is the only region in Southern California where apartment rents are expected to rise slightly this year, according a USC forecast released Wednesday.

Rents are expected to decline 3.5 percent in Los Angeles and Orange counties, stay flat in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, but inch up 0.7 percent in San Diego County, according to the report from USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate.

“Overall, Southern California will not see sustained increases in rents until the greater economic health of the region improves, but renters in San Diego may experience the kind of slight increase that comes when jobs return and housing is still too costly for renters to become buyers,’' said Tracey Seslen, co-author of the Casden Multifamily Market Forecast.

“The future health of the Southern California multifamily market continues to be shaped by jobs, housing prices, the ‘shadow’ market of rental homes and condos and new construction,’” she said.

According to the forecast, San Diego will outperform other Southern California markets in rental and vacancy rates as a steady stream of defense contracts and strong growth in the biotech industry buoy the region’s economy.

San Diego County has the lowest vacancy levels in the region due to high- priced homes and costly rents, according to the study.

The highest average rents are in the North County coastal communities at $1,711 a month, according to the USC forecast.