Ten years ago, apartments rented for an average of $724, the last of the echo boomers were still toddling around their parents' living rooms, and President Clinton was presiding over the start of the tech boom.

Now fast forward a decade. Today, an apartment goes for about $911, echo boomers are one of the largest renting cohorts, and President Bush's reelection has helped keep Republicans in power.

Each decade offers unique opportunities and challenges. For multifamily developers, the 2000s bring increased demand as immigrants and echo boomers flood the market; an onslaught of Internet advertising, broadband and WiFi investments, and automated services; and a higher level of product to accommodate the demands of renters-by-choice. Lofts, mixed-use, and adaptive reuse are huge buzzwords, while the lack of affordable housing continues to plague the country.

Overall, industry executives are optimistic about the future. While there's a big push for homeownership, the apartment industry will remain strong, says Tom Bozzuto, CEO of The Bozzuto Group, a Greenbelt, Md.-based developer and manager.

“[People say] that the apartment industry is going to be on its back, not withstanding the generation,” he says. His response: nonsense. “What people will realize is that when you buy a home, you give up mobility, and we are still people who value mobility.”

–Rachel Z. Azoff