Sales and construction of apartment complexes soar | News

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Sales and construction of apartment complexes soar
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A bright spot in our local economy: Sales and construction of apartment complexes have been strong over the past couple of years.

You have probably seen the construction around town. New apartment complexes are popping up, slowing taking over empty plots of land. Broker Batey McGraw has been involved in a number of these local projects. 

"It was a rapid ascent from a bottom, back to a normal level again," he said.

The numbers show a sharp increase in building. In 2010, there were zero building permits for apartments. In 2011, there were 13 new permitted projects, totaling 372 units. Last year, a massive jump to 104 permits, which translated to 2,928 new apartment units.

"When you look at the historical average, our number this year will be equal to what we have seen the last twenty years or so on average," McGraw said.

So why all the building? Demand. Over the past couple of years, more people are renting. Real estate firm Walchle Lear Multifamily Advisors estimated the current rental occupancy rate at 93.3 percent, a number they say has continuously improved since 2009. Which means new jobs during the construction process.

"And finally property management and property maintenance jobs that result from these new communities," McGraw said.

But despite the new jobs, all the demand for apartments means higher rents. Something renter Timothy Watts knows all too well. 

"Mine has gone up every time I sign a new lease at where I live now."

Some renters say they are trying to sign leases before apartments are built to try and find the best deals.

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