Terry Danner is particularly eager to see how leasing season in Nashville will play out.
Danner, founder and CEO of Riverstone Residential, is keeping his eye fixed on Music City. The city’s population grew about 1.4 percent in 2013, according to a recent report from Phoenix-based advisory firm Hendricks-Berkadia. The report notes Nashville's employment was up by 2.2 percent in 2013, with more than 18,000 jobs being added to the metro area. The opening of a new convention center, Music City Center, alone created 2,700 jobs, according to the report.
Creative marketing will be a huge component in the Nashville leasing season, Danner says.
“If you’re going to target the musicians, the music producers, you’ve got to give them something unique and then make it have that image that it’s the place to be," Danner says.
JRK Property Holdings senior vice president Tom Manzo’s best bet for leasing this year is Denver. Los Angeles-based JRK owns eight properties there, and act as third-party managers for another 11 communities in the metro area.
The Denver’s population rose 1.7 percent in 2013 and employment grew by 2.6 percent, according to the Hendricks-Berkadia report. At the end of 2013, more than 11,000 units were under construction in the market, the report states.
“They’ve had, year after year now, the most consistent high growth,” Manzo says. “Our renovations have been very successful there in terms of getting even more than we had hoped for.”
Kellie Falk chose Raleigh as one of the more stable markets for her company's Spring leasing. The Newport News, Va.-based Drucker & Falk have seen healthy rent growth in the market since about Sept. 2009, and the firm expects to raise rents by about 5 percent this year.
“The occupancies and rent growths are steady,” she says. “At this point, the supply has kept up with the demand without sacrificing occupancy or rent growth.”
Although metropolitan employment in the area was only up by about 0.5 percent, leasing activity increased, according to the Hendricks-Berkadia report. In fact, a total of 3,540 apartments were absorbed in the market last year, which was 1,600 more units than in 2012.
The Raleigh-Durham area, characterized by a heavy presence of tech companies in the area's Research Triangle region, attracts a steady stream of recent college grads, many of whom favor the flexibility of renting vs. owning.
"The forecast for the next few years projects stable occupancy and conservative rent growth," Falk says. "I am not sure that the rent growth is affected by unemployment and interest rates in today's market; I would say that the desire to be flexible and to be noncommittal by the new generations growing up plays a bigger factor."
Lindsay Machak is an Associate Editor for Multifamily Executive. Connect with her on Twitter @LMachak.