Sperry Van Ness International Corporation’s (SVNIC) 2015 Market Update Reports assess the current state of the national commercial real estate market, and identify micro-trends within specific geographic regions and industries for 2015. Today we are delving into the 2015 Top Multifamily Markets to Watch. Not the largest or the most actively contested markets, the 2015 Multifamily Markets to Watch are each at an important juncture that presents unique opportunities for investment. Together, they reflect the diversity of trends that is driving the economy and commercial real estate performance in markets across the country.
Top Multifamily Market to Watch: Atlanta, GA
After several years of lagging economic growth, Atlanta proved itself a late bloomer in 2014. Jobs are key to apartment demand and Atlanta is coming into its own. The metro area is generating jobs again, pushing total employment higher by 2.4% in 2014. Illinois-based insurer State Farm announced it would add 3,000 jobs in its national operations center, currently under construction in the northern suburb of Dunwoody. Medical cloud-based services provider, athenahealth, is building out a new 75,000-square-foot loft office space in Atlanta’s Old Fifth Ward neighborhood, and is reportedly looking to add 600 new positions in 2015. To the north, in Alpharetta and Cumming, where the apartment vacancy rate has slipped below 3.0%, financial services technology provider Fiserv is consolidating its 2,000 Atlanta-area employees into a new $41 million campus, and looking to add 500 additional jobs over the next five years.
Like Atlanta’s broader economy and labor market, the apartment sector is also earlier in its current expansion than other metro areas, offering selective opportunities for investors concerned about buying into a mature cycle. Effective rents increased by more than 7% in 2014 and overall vacancy dropped to 6.2%, from 6.7% in 2013. The affluent neighborhood of Buckhead has the lowest vacancy rate, estimated at 3.0%. These trends are not sustainable over the long-run, particularly as renters’ wage and salary growth rates are lower than rent increases, but it will be a soft landing for the best properties as income growth moderates.
As new construction brings an additional 6,500 units online in 2015, rent growth is expected to slow in Atlanta’s core neighborhoods. Atlanta’s apartment market also faces competition from substitution into its highly affordable housing market. According to the National Association of Realtors, qualifying income for a single-family home with 10% down is less than $33,000, compared to $43,500 nationally.
To read more on Atlanta and other top multifamily markets, download the full version of the 2015 Multifamily Market Update report here.
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