NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- One of the biggest upsides to the downturn in housing has been a surge in demand for apartments. Whether burned by foreclosure or afraid of losing money in homeownership, Americans have run in droves to rent. That resulted in a strong rise in rents and a big drop in vacancies over the past few years, as investors rushed to build more supply. Now, just as that supply is about to come on line, demand appears to be weakening. Apartment vacancies fell by just ten basis points in the third quarter of 2012, from 4.7% to 4.6%, according to Reis Inc. While that is still an improvement, it is the slowest rate since the recovery began in 2010; vacancies fell by an average 35 basis points every quarter from 2010 and 2011. "Demand for apartments still clearly outstrips supply growth, with absorption figures higher than construction, and vacancies declining. Still, there is cause for concern in the near-term that demand is abating for multifamily, just as a veritable avalanche of new projects begins to open their doors early next year," notes Reis economist Victor Calanog.
By Diana Olick, CNBC Correspondent
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