Class-B, Suburban Class-A Apartment Properties Gain Momentum

Class-A apartments in core neighborhoods may no longer be the best investment in today’s market. Vacancy rates are rising for the most expensive apartment communities in urban neighborhoods, research shows.

“The urban class-A market is seeing some pressure. It’s not a crisis by any means, but it’s now an underperforming segment of the market,” says Jay Parsons, an expert with MPF Research, a division of RealPage, Inc., an apartment market intelligence firm. “We expect that to remain the case through 2016 and likely into 2017.”

The pressure is due to the fact that developers are building so many new luxury apartments in urban areas, especially in downtown districts. Vacancy rates are lower and rent growth is steady for apartment communities that don’t have to compete so hard to attract renters—including class-A apartment communities in suburban areas, where there isn’t so much new construction, and class-B apartment communities everywhere.

“Class-A vacancy rates will continue to rise, while class-B vacancy should decline as few developers build class-B buildings,” says Barbara Byrne Denham, economist with New York City-based research firm Reis Inc.  “Rents should continue to rise, although the rate of growth for class-A rents will be lower than it has been. The rate of growth for class-B rents should stay the same.”

Vacancy rates fall for class-B apartments

Usually, class-A communities have significantly fewer vacant apartments than class-B communities. Over the last dozen years, from 2003 to present, the class-A apartment vacancy rate averaged 5.2 percent. That’s 40 basis points lower than the vacancy rate for class-B apartments. But that difference has vanished as class-B apartments catch up to class-A—both had an average vacancy rate of 4.9 percent over the last two years, according to data firm Axiometrics Inc.

Read entire article in National Real Estate Investor here.

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