As always, April brought a flurry of data and commentary about how the apartment industry performed over the winter. And if the REITs and various data providers are to be believed, things looked very good in the first three months of 2012.
Dallas-based Axiometrics reported that effective rents increased 0.89 percent from February to March, which is the highest sequential growth rate since the firm began surveying its property database monthly, in April 2008.
The national occupancy rate also increased on a sequential basis for the second consecutive month, rising from 93.61 percent in February to 93.94 percent in March. This was the largest month-to-month gain in occupancy since August 2010. New York–based Reis reported that occupancy moved 1.3 percent year over year, to 4.9 percent, while rents rose 2.2 percent over the same time frame.
In their quarterly earnings reports, the REITs showed some of the same results, though some companies, including Chicago-based Equity Residential, sacrificed occupancy to be able to push rents higher on those empty units in the peak spring leasing season.
Jeffrey Friedman, CEO of Associated Estates Corp. (AEC), summed up the sentiment of his earnings call when he explained that there “are only so many ways you can say the apartment market is good and not letting up anytime soon.”
Palo Alto, Calif.–based Essex Property Trust expects the rental run to go into at least 2014. “We don’t see anything that will fundamentally change the outlook for multifamily housing in the short term,” CEO Mike Schall said.