Third quarter improvements in the multifamily sector were enough to outweigh a poor jobs market in a forecast of the 2011 national apartment picture.

Fannie Mae's Multifamily Market Commentary predicted that rental price growth will persist for the rest of this year, ticking upward between 3 and 4 percent before continuing to grow 1 to 2 percent next year. Additionally, the company reported that national vacancy rates fell to 7.25 percent from around 7.5 percent the previous quarter, and predicted that those rates would decline even further in the fourth quarter and finish the year at around 7 percent.

Concessions are also down in most major metropolitan markets nationwide from their peaks as landlord have had to offer fewer breaks in order to convince more tenants to sign lease agreements.

"The only concern is that multifamily fundamentals may slide if job growth stalls," said the report. "On the other hand, if job growth should start to pick up substantially, rent growth could climb higher than projected."

Other experts told Multi-Housing News that they also expect an improving rental landscape if jobs improve. However, they suggest that landlords can help themselves stand out from the pack next year by offering more in the way of better customer service.