2020, what a year!  Last week, I gave one of our quarterly seminars regarding the top apartment market trends I am seeing during the pandemic.  While a lot of uncertainty is going on in the markets, incuding the stock market and real estate market, I am seeing seven major trends that are not surprising given the COVID upheaval.  I will outline the first three trends (starting chronologically in March, 2020).

TOP TREND #1:  In March, everything froze

Highlights:

  • Pending deals DID close
  • Some pending deals failed but new buyers jumped in
  • New transactions froze
  • The institutional money stopped flowing
  • Institutional money is: pension funds, REIT’s, banks, sovereign funds
  • Everybody else followed suit
  • Why is that?  Institutional capital does not like uncertainty
  • Comment I heard multiple times: “This feels like the last recession in 2009/10”
  • Market warming up going in to Q3 and now

TOP TREND #2:  Only a Slight Reduction in Economic Vacancy

Highlights:

  • 1.6% Decrease from one year ago
  • National Average About 10% Economic Vacancy (see chart below, latest November rent collection at 90.3%)
  • Could Be Worse!

Rent Payment Tracker Data from the National Metrofamily Housing Council Website

TOP TREND #3:  Rents in Urban Areas Declining

Highlights:

  • Nationally rents in major urban areas declining
  • Rents in smaller markets increasing
  • NY -10%, SF -8.2%, LA -2.8%
  • Sacramento +5%, Las Vegas +3.9%, Phoenix +3.8%

Portland Close-in Urban Rents Decreasing, And Suburb Rent Increasing (see chart, Core Urban Rent in Bold).

Note: Before everyone freaks out here, this does not suprise me.  The reason?  Over the past few years, Portland (and other major urban markets) rents shot up quickly and the suburbs lagged behind.  Now, it appears the suburbs are starting to catch up, and the urban areas are leveling off.  All this seems pretty normal, and yes, there is a migration effect going on, but this could be a fairly “normal” trend.

Portland Core Rent Decreasing, Suburbs Increasing (chart from apartmentlist.com)

Next Post:  The remaining four trends including a summary of the Oregon/SW Washington apartment legislation that has occured in 2020, and proposed apartment legislation for December, 2020.