Bright Spot in the Housing Crash: Cheaper Rents

Rent prices across the U.S. are declining for the first time in six years — and they're likely to continue falling.

Brian Snyder / Reuters

A sign in Somerville, Mass.

There's good news in the housing market — for renters. What you pay is on the way down. The average rent in the U.S. fell 0.4% in the last three months of 2008, according to a survey of large apartment buildings in 79 metro markets by real estate analytics firm Reis. Even though landlords often find it tough to raise rent prices in winter months, the fourth quarter's decline is significant for being the first quarterly drop since the beginning of 2003. ( See who's to blame for the financial crisis. )

At first pass, that might not make a...

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