Apartment sector outlook positive as first quarter data comes in

Various real estate data and analysis firms have been reporting a strong performance for the multifamily industry during this year's first quarter.

A steadily increasing amount of information has become available since April. Axiometrics reported the highest sequential rent growth posted since readings began in April 2008 took place from February to March with a 0.89 percent increase. According to Reis, rents grew 2.2 percent during that period. Both firms also reported improvements in occupancy rates, according to Multifamily Executive.

A number of real estate investment trusts indicated in their quarterly earnings reports that they have experienced improvement in fundamentals. Some accepted decreases in occupancy as the price of pushing rents, the news source notes. Even in those cases, however, the drop was generally small.

"We don’t see anything that will fundamentally change the outlook for multifamily housing in the short term," said Mike Schall, CEO of one REIT.

Others also reported a strong outlook for the year, with expectations that positive conditions and results will continue. Some analysts note that recovery in the single-family housing market and increasing apartment construction could slow rent growth as soon as next year. Even if that occurs, however, rental property management firms are well-positioned for the immediate future.