Development Ramps Up as Rental Demand Swells

Increased demand for rental housing has led to a considerable uptick in multifamily construction, according to the National Multi Housing Councils (NMHC) latest Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions.

The pace of development activity has increased in most markets.

Two-thirds (67%) of respondents noted considerable activity, either in the planning stage or actual new construction. In particular, 20% said developers are breaking grown on new projects at a rapid clip. The other 47% reported an increase in pre-construction activities”acquiring land, lining up financing, getting building permits”but not much actual construction yet.

But even with this increased activity, more than half (54%) think new development remains considerably below demand.

“Powerful demographic trends along with changing attitudes about homeownership and tighter mortgage underwriting continue to drive a shift toward renting, which is fueling a ramp up in new construction,” noted NMHC Chief Economist Mark Obrinsky. “While some survey respondents expressed concern over sporadic overbuilding, others noted that the lack of construction financing may prevent some developments from actually breaking ground.”

Overall, the apartment market continued its healthy growth, although there is some evidence of a slowdown.

For the sixth time in the last seven quarters, all four market indexes were above 50”a reading above 50 indicates improving market conditions”although all four fell, suggesting less widespread growth than the prior quarter.

“A narrowing in the extent of the improvement is not unexpected after almost two years of strong gains,” said Obrinsky. “As long as the economy continues to generate jobs, the apartment upswing should remain on track.”

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