Vacancies dropping, rents rising nationwide

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New data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation finds that apartment vacancies have fallen across the country's 35 major cities, causing rents to rise, and perhaps making low Canadian mortgage rates more attractive to potential buyers.

The CMHC's Rental Market Survey found that the average vacancy rate dropped to 2.6 percent in October, down from 2.8 percent during the same time last year.

Rates varied widely between cities, with Winnipeg, Regina, Kingston and Quebec each having vacancy rates of 1 percent of lower, making it difficult to find affordable rental housing in those areas. Analysts said the jump was due to improving finances.

"The economic recovery that has taken place over the past year has boosted demand for both rental and ownership housing," said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. "Improving economic conditions have likely boosted household formation which, in turn, has added to the demand for rental housing."

As demand for rentals increased, so too did rents. The average rent for a two-bedroom was $860 during the month, up almost 3 percent over 2009.

That difficulty in finding rentals may boost home sales. A recent forecast by the real estate firm RE/MAX predicted that this year's home sales figures would be 5 percent below numbers from 2009.

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