Inflation? War? COVID? None of it can Slow Down the Multifamily Market

Yes, inflation is battering the U.S. economy. The country is still dealing with COVID-19. And Russia’s continued attack on Ukraine brings its own set of worries. But despite all this turmoil? The U.S. multifamily market continues to boom.

In its April Multifamily National Report, Yardi Matrix said that the average asking apartment rent in the United States rose $15 in April to an all-time high of $1,659. This is an increase of 14.3% from the same month a year ago.

In the largest 30 metropolitan areas in the United States, monthly rent growth was up at least 8.8% during the last year in all but one. And this increase in monthly rents was remarkably consistent. Yardi Matrix reported that rent growth was positive in each of these large metropolitan areas during the last one-month, three-month and 12-month periods.

Of course, not all markets are equal. Yardi Matrix said that Miami led the way in April with a 24.6% year-over-year rent increase. Overall, though, asking rents increased by 20% or more on a year-over-year basis in five of the largest 30 metropolitan areas and 10% or more in 26 of the biggest 30 markets.

The rent growth wasn’t as robust in all Midwest markets. Yardi Matrix said that year-over-year rents increased by just 4.7% in Minneapolis-St. Paul and just 8.8% in Kansas City, Missouri. These ranked among the lowest percent increases among the biggest metropolitan areas in the country.

What does the future hold? Yardi Matrix said that the fundamentals are still in place for steady growth in multifamily rents. Most importantly, the country still faces a shortage of new single-family housing. Yardi Matrix reports that an average of 16 million to 17 million new homes were built between the 1980s and 2010. That number fell to less than 11 million in the 2010s.

This has left the United States short of several million single-family homes. Leonard Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, says that the country went from a surplus of 1.9 million units of housing in 2010 to a shortfall of 3.8 million units in 2020.

You can blame the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 for the shortage of newly built homes. During and after the crisis, banks slowed the amount of financing they made available for single-family and multifamily housing. That resulted in a slowdown in new residential construction.

Today, a shortage of land and the high cost of construction materials and labor is contributing to the slowdown in residential construction. Developers also face regulatory hurdles and NIMBY protests in many areas.

This all adds up to higher costs for housing, including of the multifamily variety. And these pressures are showing few signs of lessening, meaning that monthly apartment rents aren’t forecast to decline anytime soon.

What does this mean for renters? They can expect to pay more for their units, especially if they plan on living in a major metropolitan area.