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Lower Inventory, Higher Prices

If you live in Greenville, S.C., chances are you're paying too much for rent. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about it. That's because Greenville, like the other two dozen metros in this ranking, suffers from the double whammy of a shrinking inventory of rental property and a local economy that can't afford—or is feeling too cautious—to buy a home. According to Ronald Johnsey, president of AXIOMetrics, a Dallas-based apartment market research firm, supply tightened as renter households unwound and people moved into one-bedroom units following a widespread doubling-up of tenants with friends, family, and roommates in 2009. He adds that the normal transition from renting to buying has not resumed as uncertainties about the economy and employment remain. Rents swelled in places with low unemployment such as Washington, D.C. (job creation can attract new workers and tighten supply), as well as places with rising joblessness such as Ventura County, Calif. (people not qualified or not confident to buy rented instead). Of the 88 metros surveyed by AXIOMetrics, the only ones where rents decreased were Las Vegas and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., though rents in those metros are forecast to go up in 2011.

Click here to see which metro areas had the steepest rent hikes in 2010.
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