The vacancy rate for apartment projects in the Baltimore are is 3.9 percent -- far lower than the national average of 7 percent, according to a recent study by the Legg Mason Realty Group Inc.
When projects in the initial lease stage are excluded, the long-term vacancy rate declines to 2.9 percent for the Baltimore area, according to the study, which measures apartment vacancies as of August 1990.
The figure is a sign that the Baltimore rental market is not overbuilt the way rental markets in some areas of the country are and might even be considered "close to being underbuilt" in certain areas, according to Joseph Cronyn, senior associate of the Legg Mason Realty Group.
The rate also may be a sign that some people are not movinfrom apartments and buying starter homes at the same pace they may have done in the past due to the current economic downturn, although Baltimore historically has been a "low-vacancy market" for apartments, Mr. Cronyn said.
Legg Mason collected and analyzed information from 463 developments in Baltimore and five surrounding counties, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard. Developers and management firms representing more than 115,000 rental units were contacted, and the figures reflect re
sponses from 78.9 percent of the owners.
According to Legg Mason, the figures show that the market is a good one for investors and owners of rental units, and not so attractive for renters seeking housing.
Baltimore County dominates the rental market, containing 55 percent of the region's multifamily units. Howard and Anne Arundel Co. each accounted for 13 percent of the inventory surveyed. Baltimore's non-subsidized multifamily housing stock accounted for 10 percent of the units surveyed. Harford's market share accounted for five percent of the units, and Carroll County had less than two percent
Legg Mason analysts predict that the aging of the region's apartment stock will become an investment and public policy issue in the near future, because the average age of local apartment projects is 17 years. More than 40 percent of the area's apartments were constructed before 1970, and another 40 percent was built between 1970 and 1979.