Thursday, October 04, 2018

Reis: Apartment Vacancy Rate increased in Q3 to 4.8%

by Bill McBride on 10/04/2018 09:49:00 AM

Reis reported that the apartment vacancy rate was at 4.8% in Q3 2018, up from 4.7% in Q2, and up from 4.4% in Q3 2017.  This is the highest vacancy rate since Q3 2012. The vacancy rate peaked at 8.0% at the end of 2009, and bottomed at 4.1% in 2016.

From Reis:

The apartment vacancy rate increased in the quarter to 4.8% from 4.7% last quarter and 4.4% in the third quarter of 2017. The vacancy rate has now increased 70 basis points from a low of 4.1% in Q3 2016.

The national average asking rent increased 1.2% in the third quarter while the average effective rent, which nets out landlord concessions, also increased 1.2%. At $1,424 per unit (market) and $1,356 per unit (effective), the average rents have increased 4.5% and 4.2%, respectively, from the third quarter of 2017.

Net absorption was 35,683 units, lower than the previous quarter’s absorption of 57,988 units and below the average quarterly absorption of 2017 of 46,685 units. Construction was 50,475 units, also below the second quarter’s 67,417 units and below the 2017 quarterly average of 61,535 units.
...
The apartment market had slowed at the end of 2017 and early 2018 as the housing market started to accelerate. However, the passing of the Tax Reform and Jobs Act in December that doubled the standard deduction and cut the deductibility of state and local taxes reduced the incentive to buy a home. This has helped the apartment market, especially in high-taxed localities.

We expect construction to remain robust for the rest of 2018 and in the first half of 2019 before completions drop off in subsequent periods. Occupancy is expected to remain positive, although vacancy rates are expected to increase, as new supply will outpace demand growth. Still, as long as job growth holds steady, we expect rent growth to remain positive over the next few quarters.
emphasis added
Apartment Vacancy Rate Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the apartment vacancy rate starting in 1980. (Annual rate before 1999, quarterly starting in 1999). Note: Reis is just for large cities.

The vacancy rate had mostly moved sideways for the last several years.  However, the vacancy rate has bottomed and is now increasing.  With more supply coming on line - and less favorable demographics - the vacancy rate will probably continue to increase over the next year.

Apartment vacancy data courtesy of Reis.