U.S. cities are filling up with luxury apartments despite ‘housing recession’
- Apartment building hit a 50-year high in 2022, according to analysts at Yardi Matrix.
- New housing is often marketed as “luxury” to justify prices set for high-wage earners, particularly in U.S. cities with strong job markets.
- Revisions to real estate regulations and federal home-building subsidies are top policy priorities among lawmakers in Washington looking to address the housing supply issue.
Scores of luxury homes are coming to major cities across the United States.
Analysts at Yardi Matrix projected that more than 400,000 units were completed in 2022, and they expect another strong showing in 2023. Experts believe much of this new stock is built with upper-tier customers in mind.
“You often see new housing branded as ‘luxury,’ in part because it’s new,” said Ethan Handelman, deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “When you get to affordable housing, we need to be providing some additional capital and/or rental assistance to help make that housing affordable to the people who need it most.“
Market-rate rents for new apartments can easily be multiple thousands of dollars monthly. For many high-wage earners in cities, this is achievable. But for moderate-income Americans, the sky-high prices appear disconnected from reality.
“The marketplace is structured not to house certain people. We need to admit that,” said Dominic Moulden, a resource organizer at Organizing Neighborhood Equity DC.
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Builders say the high cost of housing in the U.S. is related to the large amount of regulation in the housing sector. For example, they say, many U.S. cities are short on land due to restrictive zoning codes.
“Currently, 40% of the cost of multifamily development is in regulation,” said Sharon Wilson Géno, president at the National Multifamily Housing Council. “We have to do something about that if we’re going to build more housing.”
In 2022, the Biden administration announced a housing action plan that aims to shore up housing supply within five years. But these efforts may not have a material impact on prices for some time.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to see rents going down a whole lot over the next one to two years,” said Al Otero, a portfolio manager at Armada ETF Advisors. “Developers cannot make a profit at those more affordable price points. Therefore, we see the development and the new construction at the much higher, higher end of the spectrum.“