Neither an upswing in home sales nor a wave of new multifamily construction is affecting apartment vacancy rates so far this year. Rates are down and rents are strong across the nation.
Apartment markets improved across all areas according to the National Multi Housing Council's (NMHC) April Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions. All four indexes -- Market Tightness (54), Sales Volume (55), Equity Financing (56) and Debt Financing (59) -- came in above 50, which indicates improving conditions. This reverses last January's findings, where Market Tightness and Sales Volume dipped below 50 for the first time since 2010.
"The apartment industry is operating on cruise control, as the expansion continues unabated," said Mark Obrinsky, NMHC's Vice President for Research and Chief Economist. "While concern about overbuilding has begun to crop up, demand for apartment residences remains strong. New construction may have finally recovered fully, but most units under construction won't be delivered until 2014 or later. The dearth of recent completions has contributed to relatively low product availability. As deliveries increase, we expect to see an even greater pick-up in sales volume."
Key findings include:
Financing remains constrained. One in ten reported construction financing as available for all types of apartments in all markets. In addition, only one quarter thought acquisition financing was available for all properties in all markets.
Market Tightness Index rose to 54 from 45. The index has been above 50 for 12 of the past 13 quarters, with only January 2013 indicating contraction. One quarter of respondents saw markets as tighter, up from 16 percent last quarter.
The Sales Volume Index increased to 55 from 49. Like the Market Tightness Index, the pickup in the Sales Volume Index showed improving conditions again this quarter. Almost one-third (30 percent) reported sales volume was higher while only 20 percent indicated that sales volume was lower.
The Equity Financing Index remained at 56, unchanged from the previous two quarters. This reflects the 15th quarter in a row with the index above 50. This is the seventh quarter in a row in which the most common response was that equity finance conditions were unchanged from three months ago.
Debt Financing Index increased by two points to 59. One quarter of respondents viewed now as a better time to borrow compared with three months ago, while six percent viewed now as a worse time. This was the ninth consecutive quarter in which the share of respondents who thought debt financing had worsened was in single digits.