“With rental demand rising and apartment economics improving, the multifamily sector is a positive signal for the U.S. housing industry,” writes Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, in the October 2011 U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook.
An increase of 1.4 million households moved into rental housing in the year ending June 2011–a 4 percent rise in the number of tenant households in one year alone, the Census Bureau reports. Meanwhile, the home ownership rate dropped about 1.5 percent over the past year.
“While home sales remain sluggish despite the most affordable purchase market in decades, households have turned to rental to meet their shelter needs,” Nothaft writes in the report.
The increase in rental demand is due partially to some households who may have faced a short sale or foreclosure of a home they owned, Nothaft notes. However, he says most of the rental demand is coming from young and newly formed households, who are postponing home ownership. The home ownership rate for household heads under 30 years of age has fallen the sharpest in recent years.
As demand increases, vacancy rates are dropping and rents are rising. New construction for larger apartment buildings is also increasing, as property sales rise. Dollar-sales volume of apartment buildings was at its highest point in the second quarter since 2007, according to Real Capital Analytics. New construction starts of apartment buildings with at least 20 dwellings is also on the rise, posting its highest level since the end of 2008 in the second quarter too.