One-off sales, which totaled 32 percent more than in 2013, drove the market last year, while portfolio activity fell. As one-off deals grew, so did small markets. “Markets as varied as Portland [Ore.], Columbus [Ohio], Minneapolis, and Nashville [Tenn.] experienced a burst of activity,” RCA said in the report.
As sales rose, so did property prices. The Moody’s/RCA Commercial Property Price Indices (CPPI) for apartments is expected to reflect a 15 percent increase for 2014 once the final numbers are in. In nonmajor metros, pricing rose 18 percent.
While all apartment sectors saw appreciation in 2014, mid- and high-rise prices rose at the fastest pace. Those prices are now 48 percent above their prior peak after jumping 18 percent in 2014. RCA said volume in that sector was a hot $41.5 billion, an 8 percent year-over-year increase.
The top properties in the top markets commanded cap rates of 3.5 percent or lower. “The premium for the best properties continues to grow even as much capital has moved into new markets in search of higher yields,” RCA said in the report. “Higher yields are certainly attainable, even in the major metros, where the average cap rate is 150 basis points higher.”
Garden apartments saw cap rates fall 42 basis points in the six largest metros, despite lower volume. The increased garden volume occurred in secondary and tertiary markets.
Last year’s strength was illustrated in fourth-quarter 2014 volume, which came in at $34.0 billion, just shy of the all-time quarterly record and 9 percent higher than a year ago.