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Scant growth in San Francisco rents through 2017, AvalonBay execs say

AvalonBay Communities Inc. expects scant growth in either rents or revenue in San Francisco in 2017, and believes a wave of new construction in the city will not ebb until 2018, executives said.

The company is forecasting between 25 and 50 basis points of revenue growth in the city for the full year, and rental rate growth of less than 1%, COO Sean Breslin said in an earnings conference call. New supply is expected to remain steady throughout the year before beginning to taper off in 2018, he said.

In New York City, which AvalonBay's peer Equity Residential cited as a particular area of weakness, the company expects roughly 1% revenue growth for the year, Breslin said. However, he added, the New York-area suburbs should post revenue growth of 2% to 2.5%.

Both markets could perform differently from expectations, Breslin said, citing their high levels of new construction and volatile employment bases. In particular, he cited unpredictable hiring trends in San Francisco's technology sector.

"We know what the supply is, and if the demand doesn't show up the way we expect it, you could see more deterioration there," he said. "But on the other side of the coin, some people are calling for the potential re-acceleration of job growth there later this year. It could go either way."