In what’s becoming a recurring storyline, the U.S. apartment market set record highs for demand, occupancy and rent growth in 2022’s 1st quarter – toppling previous multi-decade peaks set just one quarter earlier. Huge appetite for housing continues to power unprecedented market conditions. Net demand for market-rate apartments totaled a remarkable 712,899 units nationally in the year-ending 1st quarter 2022. That’s 8% more than the previous high set one quarter earlier, and 76% higher than the pre-COVID-era peak set back in 2000.
Liquidity fell in some of Europe’s leading real estate markets in 2021 despite acquisition volume on the continent reaching a new annual record, the latest update of RCA’s _Capital Liquidity Scores_ shows. A shift in investors’ sector preference is behind the weaker outturn, and also explains the leap in liquidity in other markets. In Central Paris, liquidity fell by 3% to a four-year low at the end of 2021, and liquidity in Frankfurt dropped to its lowest level since 2014. In Milan, liquidity dropped by 7% year-over-year to its lowest score since 2015.
Apartment markets in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. continue to be very stable performers, after displaying a pattern of tight occupancy and modest rent growth throughout the past decade. In the U.S. overall, effective asking rent change averaged 3.7% annually during the 2010s decade, according to RealPage Market Analytics data. Meanwhile, nationwide occupancy came in just a touch under 95%.
Across the nation, the markets that were inducing the most anxiety for landlords in mid-2020 have all experienced an urban core rebound even stronger than most anticipated. Arguably no apartment niche was hit harder throughout the pandemic than urban cores in gateway markets. Most urban core operators turned to rent cuts as early as 2nd quarter 2020 and continued to slash rents well into 2021, while residents fled, and occupancy dwindled. Now, that seems to be in the rearview.
Welcome to the April 2022 Apartment List National Rent Report. Rent growth is continuing to pick up steam again, after a brief winter cooldown, with our national index up by 0.8 percent over the course of March. So far this year, rents are growing more slowly than they did in 2021, but faster than the growth we observed in the years immediately preceding the pandemic. Year-over-year rent growth currently stands at a staggering 17.1 percent, but most of that growth took place last spring and summer.
Since the sharp declines in both permitting and starts for multifamily development at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trajectory for multifamily has accelerated, compared to before the pandemic shutdowns. In February, the annual pace of multifamily permitting decreased 4.5% to 597,000 units from January’s revised rate of 625,000 units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, that was still 12% greater than the annual rate one year ago. Annualized multifamily starts in February were virtually unchanged (0.8%) from last month but were 37.3% greater than February 2021.
U.S. commercial property price growth continued apace in February as all four major property types posted double-digit annual price growth. The US National All-Property Index rose 19.4% from a year ago and 0.8% from January, the latest _RCA CPPI: US_ report shows. Industrial prices climbed 28.5% from a year prior, the fastest annual rate among the major property sectors in February and a record for any property type since the inception of the RCA CPPI. In June 2021 industrial price growth surpassed its previous high, seen prior to the Global Financial Crisis, and growth has accelerated every month since.
There’s a severe shortage of affordable rental housing all over the country, and it may be worse in California than anywhere else. The root issues are plainly simple to identify (although more challenging for policymakers to properly fix). Here’s California’s rental housing crisis succinctly captured in five charts – adapted from a presentation I gave recently to the California Housing Finance Agency’s board of directors. California has the third-highest share (among all states) of severely cost-burdened renters, per Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.
In response to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the resulting economic shocks experienced by the U.S. and global economies, the Federal Reserve slashed its target interest rate to nearly zero and kept it between 0% and 0.25% from March 15, 2020, until March 16, 2022, when the Fed announced it will raise the target interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.25-0.5%. For existing homeowners, the resulting low interest rates meant opportunities for billions of dollars of savings in mortgage interest, prompting millions of homeowners to refinance their existing mortgage for a lower rate.
After a historic 2021 in which apartment demand and rent growth rocketed well beyond their typical ranges, the expectation for 2022 could be broadly summarized as “robust, but not 2021”. National rent growth projections for this year have commonly been in the 5-7% range across various sources. This is based partially on the thinking that supply constraints, a fully re-opened economy, and remaining high demand would continue rent growth momentum even if that growth likely peaked in 2021.
France stood out among Europe’s largest property markets in 2021, posting a lower level of commercial real estate deal activity than during the pandemic-disrupted 2020. Of the top 10 European markets in 2021, only the Netherlands also registered a decline. Weakness in France’s office market was the culprit. Offices account for around 60% of the amount spent on French property since 2007 and the uncertainty affecting the sector has had an outsized effect on the market as a whole. Other more in-demand European sectors — namely apartment and industrial — have not compensated.
U.S. single-family rent growth increased 12.6% in January 2022, the fastest year-over-year increase in over 16 years, according to the CoreLogic Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI). January marked the 10th consecutive month of record-level rent growth. The index measures rent changes among single-family rental homes, including condominiums, using a repeat-rent analysis to measure the same rental properties over time. Annual rent growth in January 2022 was more than triple the gain recorded in January 2021 and more than quadruple the increase from January 2020.
According to ATTOM’s February 2022 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, foreclosure filings in February 2022 were up 11 percent from January 2022 and 129 percent from February 2021. ATTOM’s latest foreclosure activity analysis found there were a total of 25,833 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings reported in February 2022. The report noted that lenders repossessed 2,634 of those properties through completed foreclosures (REOs), down 45 percent from January 2022 but up 70 percent from February 2021.
Student housing pre-leasing exceeded the halfway point in February, again surpassing the rates seen this time in previous years. Fall 2022 pre-lease rates again stand above pre-pandemic norms. As of February, 50.8% of beds at the core 175 universities tracked by RealPage were leased for the Fall 2022 school year. In February 2020 – the last month before the pandemic began – pre-lease rates registered at 50.1%. In February 2021, during the height of uncertainty caused by the pandemic, pre-leasing reached a modest 40.0%. This month’s pre-lease rate marks the strongest February on record.
The nation’s overall delinquency rate was 3.4% in December. All stages of delinquencies showed year-over-year decreases in December. In December 2021, 3.4% of home mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due, including those in foreclosure) , which was a 2.4-percentage point decrease from December 2020 according to the latest CoreLogic Loan Performance Insights Report. This is the lowest recorded overall delinquency rate in the U.S. since at least January 1999.
Apartment rents continued to increase in February 2022, but the pace of growth reverted closer to normal – even as occupancy remained at record highs. Effective asking rents for new leases in February increased 0.75% month-over-month on a same-store basis. While that was the largest increase for a February on record, it wasn’t by much – and that alone is a notable shift. February’s increase was just 21 basis points (bps) above the long-term average for February going back to 2010.
Global commercial property market liquidity continued to grow at the end of 2021, as buyers returned to the market in numbers after almost two years of a pandemic that had stymied investment activity. Liquidity was up year-over-year in 94 of 155 markets and up on a quarterly basis in 77 of 155, the latest _RCA Capital Liquidity Scores_ report shows. For 17 markets, liquidity was at a record high at the close of last year.
There is a first time for everything, and such was the motto of some investors in the U.S. as they made their first purchases outside of their traditional geographic footprint in 2021. A list of the top markets for new entrants provides some insight as to where investors headed and what factors lured them there. For some first-time market participants, the decision to expand their geographic horizons had less to do with geography and more to do with access to a specific asset class.