The apartment sector of the U.S. real estate industry experienced 5.8 percent revenue growth during 2011, according to MPF Research.

A recent report from the firm indicates the national occupancy rate climbed 1.1 percent while effective rent growth was 4.7 percent, driving that increase. Analysts did note some regional shifts, such as declining revenues in Seattle and San Jose late in the year. These may be early signs of what 2012 holds, the report indicates.

"While apartment demand has cooled off a bit from 2010's incredibly large volume, it remains very strong," MPF Research vice president Greg Willett. "Most of the jobs being formed are going to young adults, who tend to be renters. At the same time, loss of renters to purchase continues to run far below the historical norm."

He attributed this state of affairs to the limited amount of new construction being developed, noting that many of the new rentals in the nation are affordable housing or targeted at seniors, students or other niche markets. As a result, they do not compete directly with market-rate properties.