As is the case in Boston right now, many other rental markets throughout the nation are seeing increased demand and higher rents. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out. People need places to live. If the sales market is slower, and lending standards are tighter, the demand for rental apartments will increase, and thus rents will go up.

Michael Rodriguez planted a "For Rent" sign one Sunday morning in the yard of a three-bedroom, two-bath house he owns in Salinas, Calif., a farming community 10 miles inland from the Monterey Bay beaches and about an hour from Silicon Valley. That day, Rodriguez received 34 calls from prospective tenants.