The U.S. apartment vacancy rate declined in the fourth quarter, while rent growth slowed to its lowest since 2009, according to a report from Reis Inc (REIS.O). The national vacancy rate fell to 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter from 4.2 percent in the third quarter, the real estate research firm said. Asking rent and effective rent grew by 0.3 percent in the most recent quarter. They rose 1.2 percent and 1 percent respectively in the preceding quarter, according to the report. "Looking ahead, while new construction is expected to exceed demand (occupancy growth), we do not foresee a spike in vacancy rates," said Barbara Denham, senior economist at Reis. New completions totaled 195,734 in 2016, down from 210,272 units added in 2015. Completions are projected to increase in 2017, before dipping in 2018 and 2019.