The National Association of Home Builders’ Multifamily Production Index (MPI) increased two points to 55 in the fourth quarter of 2016. For five straight years, the MPI has been at or above 50, which indicates that more respondents report conditions are improving than report conditions are getting worse (Figure 1).
Figure 1: NAHB Multifamily Production Index (MPI) and Multifamily Starts (in thousands)
The MPI is a composite measure of three key segments of the multifamily housing market: construction of low-rent units, market-rate rental units and “for-sale” units, or condominiums. In the fourth quarter, low-rent units remained unchanged at 54 while market-rate rental units rose one point to 58 and for-sale units increased three points to 53.
The Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI), which measures the multifamily housing industry’s perception of vacancies, remained unchanged at 42, with lower numbers indicating fewer vacancies (Figure 2).
Figure 2: NAHB Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI) and 5+ Rental Vacancy Rate
After peaking at 70 in the second quarter of 2009, the MVI improved consistently through 2010 and has been fairly stable since 2011. Historically, the MVI has shown to be a leading indicator of Census multifamily vacancy rates, which is displayed in Figure 2 as well.