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San Francisco, NYC rent markets slowing: Jefferies

Guy Calaf | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Rent growth is slowing in major U.S. real estate markets, so investors should avoid apartment stocks, according to investment firm Jefferies.

"Initial spring leasing season results have been disappointing in key coastal markets, with San Francisco and New York slowing, and DC as well as Boston remaining sluggish ... beginning to slow down due to supply and rent fatigue," Jefferies' Omotayo Okusanya wrote in a note to clients Wednesday.

He added, "Apartment REITs are still trading at relatively lofty multiples versus their historical levels. We therefore see risk of multiple compression as fundamentals slow."

As a result, Okusanya lowered his price targets and ratings to hold from buy for AvalonBay Communities, Equity Residential and Essex Property Trust. The new price targets for the real estate investment trusts are $188, $66 and $230, respectively.

Okusanya's picks have a 10 percent one-year average return with a success rate of 67 percent, according to analyst ranking service TipRanks, placing him in the top 7 percent of all Wall Street analysts covering any industry.