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Econometric Advisors' blog

Apartment rents: Unpacking the statistics

Feb 9, 2017, 08:22 AM by Matthew Vance

EA’s fourth quarter apartment data offered one surprising number: year-over-year effective rent growth of 0.2% for the Sum of Markets. This number is meant to represent the national trend in rent growth during 2016, but for most of us, it doesn’t exactly fit our experience. So, how did we arrive at 0.2%?

The apartment data we start with is building-level data; through a series of weighted averages, we aggregate it—from buildings into submarkets into markets—finally reaching a weighted statistic for our national "Sum of Markets" grouping. As it turns out, New York City's year-over-year effective rent growth for Q4 was -6.0%. As more than 13% of the units making up the Sum of Markets are located in New York City, the market's negative growth had a similarly outsized impact on the national weighted average. Without the New York metro, rent growth for the Sum of Markets would have been 2.3% in 2016—much more in line with expectations.

So let's look at that 2.3%: Which markets have been leading the charge, this late in the cycle? Many markets are still posting rent growth above 4%. Sacramento topped the list with a blistering 9.8%, while Atlanta, Phoenix and Seattle stood out again this quarter.

New York wasn’t the only drag on the aggregate. Other markets continue to soften and dipped negative when compared to year-ago levels. Most notable were the Bay Area (Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco), Houston and Philly.

Next week, we'll be releasing our quarterly recorded discussion of the 2016 multifamily numbers, in which we'll unpack the statistics a little further.

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