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The Best of Times for Apartment Construction in Half a Century: New York Takes the Lead in 2022

  • This year, 420,000 new apartments are expected nationwide. In fact, multifamily construction in the last two years is at a 50-year high: Apartment completions last surpassed the 400,000 unit mark in 1972.
  • New York is poised to surpass the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in apartment construction, claiming the top spot for the first time since 2018.
  • Half of the top 20 metro areas are estimated to hit their five-year peaks in apartment deliveries this year, including newcomers Nashville, TN, and Portland, OR.
  • The Miami metro, the nation’s most competitive rental market, made an impressive climb back to the top, surpassing super builders like Houston and Austin, TX.

New apartment construction in the U.S. is flexing its muscle once again in 2022, despite pressing economic concerns and supply chain disruptions in the aftermath of the pandemic. And with 420,000 new rental units projected to be completed this year, multifamily construction is at a historic, 50-year peak.

This construction boom is driven by pent-up demand for apartments nationwide, especially as some renters postpone their dream to become homeowners amid soaring inflation and rising interest rates.

By and large, apartment developers have picked up the pace in both 2021 and 2022, almost unexpectedly exceeding even the most optimistic projections for the post-pandemic multifamily landscape.

“The construction industry is finally returning to pre-pandemic levels of activity but is still being hampered by three familiar challenges: labor shortages; material costs and availability; and supply chain issues,” said Doug Ressler, manager of business intelligence at Yardi Matrix.

Surprisingly enough, the New York metro is projected to deliver the most apartments in 2022, exceeding Dallas-Fort Worth from the top position for the first time since 2018. What's more, developers in half of the top 20 metros have embarked on a veritable apartment building spree and are projected to hit their five-year highs this year.

Interestingly, there's one big reason why so many metros are set to break their records from the last five years: As Ressler explained, "people who lived with family or friends during the pandemic formed independent households as employment and savings surged."

Looking at the city-level data, Houston is the absolute leader as far as the number of apartments opened in the first half of the year. Hot on the heels of Space City is another construction-crazed Texas location, Austin, followed at a greater distance by Seattle, WA.

New York metro firing on all cylinders as Dallas-Fort Worth deliveries slow down after a 4-year streak

Despite slight setbacks in previous years (mostly due to pandemic-induced hurdles), New York is back on its feet again — and with a bang: A record 28,153 brand new rental apartments are expected to be finished here before the end of the year, which is almost 50% higher than the number of apartments that were completed throughout the metro in 2021.

That’s a remarkable comeback for a metro that has been bleeding residents as a direct consequence of the pandemic and subsequent restrictions. For example, in 2021, New York’s population decreased by 1.6%. That translates into roughly 328,000 people, according to U.S. Census data.

At the same time, Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex developers are more cautious when it comes to multifamily construction, even as the metro has continued to see some of the largest population increases in the country. The former torchbearer of apartment deliveries is set to add 23,571 new units this year, which is approximately 10% less than its 2021 levels.

Perhaps the most surprising performance in terms of multifamily building this year comes from the Miami metro — the nation’s hottest apartment market. This metro climbed an impressive six positions from 2021 to secure the third spot in our current ranking. That’s a well-deserved comeback for Miami, which used to be one of the busiest apartment builders prior to the pandemic.

Other metros that caught our attention this year were Nashville, TN; Chicago; and Portland, OR — all of which were new entries on our list. Of the three newcomers, the most new apartments are expected to open in Nashville (9,620). Renters in Chicagoland will benefit from 8,573 new apartments by the end of this year, while 8,476 new rentals are expected to open their doors in the Portland metro area.

Meanwhile, compared to 2021 levels, the Boston; San Jose, CA; and Kansas City, MO, metro areas are taking things easy construction-wise — so much so that they've been knocked out from our top 20 this year.

Half of the top 20 metros set to reach 5-year peaks in new apartments

In response to outstanding demand for rentals, 10 of the top 20 metros for apartment construction are on track to hit record highs in 2022 compared to their total deliveries in each of the last five years.

The leader of the pack is the New York metro, which has been dealing with a serious lack of available units for several years now. Here, a combination of rising interest rates, lack of available units and growing need for more living space have many would-be homebuyers continuing to rent. As a consequence, New York developers have upped their game and the metro is on track to see the highest number of units delivered in the last five years.

The next record-breaker is Miami, where the existing supply of rentals simply can't keep up with sky-high demand. Here, too, developers have plunged into a building frenzy that’s set to culminate in record-breaking numbers in 2022 compared to the area's completions in the last few years.

Similarly, the Austin, TX, metro area is pushing hard to bring an estimated 18,288 new units — the highest number of completions the metro has seen in the past five years — to the market before the end of 2022. What’s more, Austin managed to climb three positions this year to squeeze by Houston (another heavy builder in Texas) and land in fourth place in our ranking.

Other metros that are set to break their five-year records in 2022 are Phoenix; Seattle; Orlando, FL; Nashville, TN; Raleigh, NC; Portland, OR; and Tampa, FL. Each of these is expected to add between 6,000 and 16,000 new apartments by the end of this year.

Houston, Austin lead the nation in new apartments built in the 1st half of 2022

On a city-level comparison, completions in the first six months of the year paint a different picture, with Texas cities still being hard-pressed to meet the huge demand for apartments.

Of the four Texas locations that made their way into our top 20, Houston was the undisputed leader when it came to deliveries, with 4,746 units built in the first half of 2022. Companies like Hewlett Packard, NRG Energy, Roboze and Exxon Mobil Corp. continue to expand or relocate here, which continues to attract renters in search of good job opportunities in the city. Consequently, Houston is working to meet the growing demand for housing.

Next up was Austin, where developers added 4,236 new apartments to the market during the first six months of 2022 — and are set to continue this pace of construction throughout the rest of the year. On that note, this growing tech hub’s skyline will look a bit different by the time the new year rings in. One of the largest apartment buildings to reach completion in Austin in 2022 is Sienna at the Thompson, which will bring 331 new units to the city’s housing stock.

The other Texas cities that were in the top 20 nationwide for new apartments were San Antonio — taking sixth place with 2,394 new units added in the first half of 2022 — and Dallas, with 1,507 units built (18th place).

Meanwhile, the number of Seattle apartments increased by 3,232 between January and June this year to reach the third spot on our list. However, supply is struggling to keep up with demand in the Emerald City — which, like other major coastal cities, has been facing an extreme lack of housing for several years now. And, this pace of construction isn't likely to slow down anytime soon: Seattle’s population is projected to hit 1 million by 2044 and city officials are already working on updating the One Seattle Plan that also tackles new strategies to add more housing.

Next came Miami, the poster child of South Florida’s appeal for renters from all across the country. Developers opened nearly 3,000 new apartments in Miami in the first half of the year, but that still wasn't enough to ease the skyrocketing demand for rentals in the city.

Further north in Florida, the number of new apartments for rent in Orlando grew by 2,257 between January and June, while renters looking for apartments in Tampa had an extra 2,056 new units to choose from. These cities were the only two other Florida locations in our ranking, taking seventh place and 14th place, respectively.

The rest of the top 20 cities with most new apartments completed in the first half of the year were: Washington, DC; Phoenix; Los Angeles; Queens, NY; Charlotte, NC; Chicago; Alexandria, VA; Brooklyn, NY; Portland, OR; Nashville, TN; San Diego, CA; and Atlanta.

Click on each tab below to see the estimated number of new apartments for each city in that metro area.

Methodology

RentCafe.com is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the U.S.

To compile this report, RentCafe’s research team analyzed new apartment construction data across 125 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas. The study is exclusively based on apartment data related to buildings containing 50 or more units. Metros with less than 300 units or less than two properties/buildings were not included.

The Bronx and Staten Island were not included in the New York metro data set.

Apartment data was provided by our sister company, Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks, and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors.

Apartment projections for 2022 were calculated based on a Yardi Matrix proprietary algorithm that includes confirmed and likely completions for 2021 based on the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. After the certificate of occupancy is issued, the status of the property can be considered “completed”. For data at the city level, the analysis includes all properties that have a certificate of occupancy issued between January 1 and June 30, 2022.

Apartment projections are estimates and subject to change. Actual apartment completion dates depend upon a variety of factors and may change.

Data on population changes from 2020 to 2021 (as of July 1, 2022) was according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the research, graphics, and images presented in this article. When doing so, we ask that you credit our research by linking to RentCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.

Veronica Grecu
Veronica Grecu
Veronica Grecu is a senior creative writer and researcher for RentCafe. With more than ten years of experience in the real estate industry, she covers a variety of topics in the residential and commercial real estate, including trends and industry news. Previously, she was involved in producing content for Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and Yardi Matrix. Veronica’s academic background includes a B.A. in Applied Modern Languages and an M.A. in Advertising and PR.

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