Avalon Bay (AVB) earnings increased 71% in the first quarter as rental revenue increased on its apartment holdings.

The real estate investment trust reported a $57.7 million profit, or 60 cents a share. For the first time in a decade, income growth increased 10% for the second consecutive quarter.

Rising rents come at a time when homebuyer demand remains low. The Mortgage Bankers Association remains optimistic. In February, MBA Chief Economist Jay Brinkmann said rents could reach such a high point that the spring homebuying season could be better than some expect.

Avalon owns 199 apartment communities with nearly 60,000 apartment homes in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Rental revenue increased 6% from last year. It rose 10% for its properties in Northern California, the most of any other part of the country.

An Avalon real estate investment vehicle bought a 334-unit property in New Jersey for $63 million during the quarter and another $19.4 million property in Pasadena, Calif.