image0-O.C. rents dip for first time since 2010
Orange County apartment rents in the last three months of 2013 fell for the first time since 2010, according to data released on Wednesday by apartment tracker RealFacts. Average rents in the area dropped by $8 a month, to $1,700, in the fourth quarter, a decrease of half a percent from the previous quarter. Prior to the recession, RealFacts hadn’t reported a quarterly decrease in O.C. apartment rents since 1995.

Even so, Orange County ranked as the fifth most expensive metro area in the state, behind San Jose, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles. Average rents countywide rose 3.85 percent year-over-year, though occupancy was down 0.4 percent for that same period. Two cities saw a decrease in average rent year-over-year: Dana Point, with a 1.6 percent drop to $1,838, and Newport Beach, with a 0.6 percent drop to $2,250. Rentals in Newport Beach were still the priciest in the county. Stanton had the least expensive units, at an average of $1,297 per month.

“I don’t think it’s a significant dip,” said Tommy Thompson, executive director of the California Apartment Association’s South Coast Division. “A lot of our apartment owners weren’t building the last several years, and now they’re bringing new products to the market … it’s simple supply and demand.”

RealFacts polled 503 properties, each with 90 or more units, for a total of more than 132,000 apartments. That’s about a third of all apartments in Orange County. The survey reports the amount that landlords ask their newest tenants to pay.