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The multifamily market in Columbus, Ohio, has been a winner in the Midwest, showing stability without a lot of ebbs and flows.

“One of the things we really like about Columbus is the market’s economic makeup,” says Carl Whitaker, director of research and analysis at RealPage.

He cites the stability provided by the state government, a segment of the economy that tends to be durable, as well as The Ohio State University, which provides a solid demand base with the students as well as from the jobs from the support staff, nearby retail, and other ancillary services. In addition, he says there’s more of a corporate upside for Columbus than some other Midwest cities. In 2022, Intel announced a $20 billion project to build a semiconductor fabrication hub in Central Ohio.

Over the past three years, the market’s rent growth has averaged 5.8%, ranking nationally at No. 32 out of RealPage’s top 50 markets.

“Even when you’re in this period of significant growth, the market tends to fall middle of the road in terms of its pecking order,” he says. “But we really like the demand outlook for the market. It’s one of those metros that doesn’t have the same boom and bust as San Francisco; Austin, Texas; or Seattle. And having said that, if you compare Columbus to slower-growth Midwest markets, that’s where the upside shows more.”

Whitaker adds that he expects it to continue to be a slow and steady market.

“And sometimes those slow and steady markets will sneak their way to the top as the national numbers are changing as quickly as they are,” he adds.

In terms of the supply, 9,900 units are under construction, making up about 5% of the overall market. According to Whitaker, in the grand scheme of things, that’s a manageable percent of inventory growth.

He will be watching the downtown/university submarket, where 4,300 units are under construction, over the next 12 to 18 months.

“To be fair, that’s also where a lot of the big demand anchors are,” he says. “With 2023 at the onset of the year, knowing that demand probably isn’t going to be what it was in 2021 and considering how much construction is coming online, I think it’s fair to assume that Class A properties are probably going to see an increase in concessions and vacancies and probably start to see rent growth decline a little more sharply.”

He adds, however, that RealPage is still forecasting positive growth for the market, but for next year or year and a half, submarkets like downtown Columbus will lag behind the farther outlying areas that have more suburban bread-and-butter product.