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Multifamily price appreciation outpaces rent growth, analysis shows

Real estate investors are sweet on multifamily – so much so that they have increasingly been willing to pay more for it than ever before, especially in certain circumstances. Whether that demand can continue or a bubble burst is on the horizon is the focus of a new Multifamily Trading Bulletin from Yardi Matrix, which shows multifamily price appreciation outpaced rent growth.

Record-high property sales and prices were recorded in 2021. Yardi Matrix tracked $215 billion of multifamily property sales in the U.S. in 2021 that traded for an average of $192,105 per unit.

The new bulletin takes a close look at repeat sales over the last decade in Matrix’s database of 83,000 properties.

Among those, 4,500 multifamily properties in the US ­(about 5.3 percent) sold at least three times over the last decade. The average compound annual growth rate for the repeat-sale properties averaged 17.7 percent nationally.

Analysts found that rents rose rapidly during the 10-year cycle, but not as much as price appreciation. Multifamily rent growth in 2021 was up 14 percent for the year, a record, but rent growth has been above the long-term average for over five years (except for during COVID-19 lockdowns). Meanwhile, the average price per unit climbed 21.6 percent in 2021, the biggest one-year jump in decades.

Investors know what they like, and that includes smaller assets geared toward working-class renters.

“They have the potential for high rent growth because those properties have relatively low rents and are in markets with above-trend rent growth,” wrote Paul Fiorilla, director of research for Yardi Matrix.

They will also pay a premium for strategically located value-add properties. The most popular regions include secondary markets and areas with strong in-migration, particularly Texas, the Southeast and Southwest, where demand and rent growth is growing faster than the rest of the nation. Relatively few properties in gateway markets made the list of repeat sales.

Yardi Matrix tracks properties in 162 markets with 50 or more units. Deal flow roared back in 2021 to a record $215.3 billion, a 67.3 percent increase from the prior high point in 2019.

Gain more insights from the new Multifamily Trading Bulletin from Yardi® Matrix.

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