Sonoma County apartment rents climbed 2 percent in the third quarter to average $1,275 a month, a real estate research company reported Thursday.

The county’s rents have increased 5 percent from a year ago, according to RealFacts of Novato.

During the past 12 months, the nation’s average rent also climbed 5 percent, to $1,042. Rents for the same period increased 10 percent in Santa Clara County, 9 percent in San Francisco, nearly 3 percent in Napa and 1 percent in Sacramento.

Of 41 metropolitan areas around the U.S., Sonoma County had the second-highest occupancy rate, 97.1 percent, up nearly 1 percent during the past three months. Only Bakersfield had a higher rate at 97.3 percent.

RealFacts predicted the U.S. will end 2012 with its average rent 6 percent higher than a year earlier.

Landlords recognize that now is an ideal time to sell their apartments, and they will “seize the day and get all they can” from rents in order to make their properties look more attractive to buyers, according to a statement from RealFacts.

— Robert Digitale