U.S. multifamily rents fell by $2 in November, down to a national average of $1,419, according to the latest Matrix Monthly report by Yardi Matrix. Year-over-year (YOY) rent growth fell by 10 basis points (bps) at the same time, down to 3.1%.
Yardi attributes this shallow decline to normal seasonal fluctuation. Both multifamily rents and rent growth peaked in September, at $1,422 and 3.3%, respectively, or $3 and 20 bps above current rates. The year’s rent growth matches November’s, at 3.1%, slightly above Yardi’s estimates at the start of the year.
Deliveries have plateaued, at nearly 300,000 per year, in each of the past three years, and occupancy remains at or above 95% in most markets. New household formation is running at 1.5 million new households per year.
Of the nation’s largest metro markets, Las Vegas has the highest rent-growth rate, at 7.4%, propelled by strong job growth outpacing new unit supply. Yardi predicts this market will remain under supplied, as units under construction and planned in Las Vegas represent only 4.0% of the metro’s total stock. Phoenix comes in second, at 6.6%, followed by California’s Inland Empire, at 5.4%.
Despite out migration and high costs of living, five of the top 10 markets for YOY rent growth are in California, including San Jose (5.0%), Los Angeles (4.2%), and San Francisco and San Diego (both at 4.0%). All of these markets are in the bottom seven in deliveries as a percentage of stock—Sacramento and the Inland Empire are growing at a rate of less than 1% per year.
Rent growth was flat at the national level on a trailing three-month (T-3) basis, which compares the past three months with the previous three months. A few under supplied, warm-climate markets experienced growth, including Las Vegas (0.6%) and Phoenix (0.3%), while rents declined at the metro level in most major markets. Seattle and San Jose experienced the largest rent drops on a T-3 basis, at -0.6%.
Again, Yardi attributes this slowdown to the seasonality of most of these markets and notes that these figures represent normalcy and stability in the multifamily sector, as rents have historically cooled in November and December.
Despite some worries about the state of the economy, Yardi expects multifamily capital to remain readily available through 2019, especially because multifamily assets are considered less risky than other property types. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, multifamily (and industrial) lending rose by 19% YOY in the third quarter, despite an overall 7% drop in commercial mortgage origination. Life companies and the GSEs posted slight increases in lending, while CMBS lending fell 53% YOY, and commercial bank lending dropped 22%.