U.S. apartment vacancy rate flat at 4.8 percent in first quarter: Reis

A "For Rent" sign is posted outside a small apartment complex in Carlsbad, California, U.S., January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) - U.S. apartment vacancy rate was flat in the first quarter, with vacancy rising in only 15 of 79 metros, real estate research firm Reis Inc said on Thursday.

The national vacancy rate was 4.8 percent, unchanged from the fourth quarter and marginally up from 4.7 percent a year earlier.

“Far fewer metros saw a vacancy rate increase in the quarter: 15, down from 40 last quarter. Most of the increases were due to high construction that exceeded net absorption,” Reis said in a statement.

Both the national average asking rent and effective rent, excluding landlord concessions, increased 0.5 percent from the previous quarter, Reis said.

Net absorption fell about 21.6 percent to 37,159 units in the first quarter from a year earlier, while new construction dropped 40.6 percent to 33,276 units.

“While we expect some revisions to these numbers, we were surprised by the low levels,” Reis said. “This year is expected to add more apartment units than last year in which 254,000 units were added.”

Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru