Dominium is transforming a former Pillsbury flour mill into artist lofts in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Dominium.

Rent growth and occupancy in the second quarter exceeded analyst expectations delivering the best quarterly performance since 2000, officials say.

Nationally, rent growth hit 2.4 percent in the second quarter, coming in just behind the third quarter of 2000, when rent growth peaked at 2.9 percent, according to Dallas-based Axiometrics.

Second quarter occupancy was 95 percent nationwide, the best showing since the first quarter of 2001, when it was 95.6 percent.

Major winter storms and bitter cold in the beginning of the year may have caused a lag in first quarter, but the industry’s momentum definitely picked up the pace in second quarter, according to Axiometrics Vice President of Research Jay Denton.

“Effective rent growth was soft in January and February,” Denton says, “but the period from March through May was the one of the strongest three-month stretches we’ve seen in the 19 years we’ve been tracking apartments.”

Although occupancy dropped by 0.2 percent in Minneapolis, Minn., the metro area still showed the nation's strongest occupancy with 96.9 percent. New York also had a .2 percent drop but came in second at 96.8 percent.

Top 10 Occupancy Markets of the Second Quarter

1. Minneapolis, Minn. | 96.9 percent

2. New York | 96.8 percent

3. Oakland, Calif. | 96.8 percent

4. San Jose, Calif. | 96.5 percent

5. Miami, Fla. | 96.3 percent

6. Seattle, Wash. | 96.2 percent

7. Nashville, Tenn. | 96.2 percent

8. Portland, Ore. | 96.2 percent

9. San Diego, Calif. | 96.2 percent

10. Sacramento, Calif. | 96.1 percent

Lindsay Machak is an Associate Editor for Multifamily Executive. Connect with her on Twitter @LMachak.