The market for apartment properties is likely to keep expanding. That’s despite the fact that the business of investing in apartments has already been in expansion for six years, since property prices hit their low point in 2009.
Many apartment experts think the number of vacant apartments will rise this year, despite strong rent growth this spring. But in the long term, a growing number of researchers expect the demand for rental apartments to keeping growing for more than a decade.
Large investors continue to buy single-family homes, though not as many as they bought just two years ago when home prices were lower and many of these investors were building their portfolios to reach a critical mass that they could operate and finance effectively.
The good news keeps coming for apartments. New resident rents rose 5.2 percent over the 12 months that ended in the second quarter. That’s the biggest rent hike since 1999-2000, according to the latest data from MPF Research, based in Carrollton, Texas.
The demand for student housing is stronger than the supply on average across the country—and the strongest segment of the student housing market, privately-owned student housing properties were already full as of May for the academic year that will begin this fall.
Developers have been very slow to restart construction of new condominiums across the United States since the condo crash. But in a few coastal markets like New York City and San Francisco, new condominiums are selling quickly and developers are building in bulk. The high cost of developable land is encouraging condo development in some prime downtown locations.
Developers planning new apartment buildings today won’t finish for two years or more in many parts of the country—hundreds of thousands of apartments now under construction have already softened the national multifamily markets. But many developers are now planning new projects anyway.
Construction is booming for the multifamily business, but so far, the cost of construction is not rising out of control. Prices are falling for diesel fuel, lumber and wall board. However, labor is more difficult to find, especially workers that handle lumber and sheet rock.
Investors are finally buying apartment properties in big numbers in smaller cities and towns. “There’s been a dramatic increase in the number of offers for properties in secondary and tertiary markets,” says John Sebree, director of Marcus & Millichap's National Multi Housing Group. “It’s been moving in this direction for some time—now it’s moving at a faster pace.”