Rental Market Shows Signs of Life with March Uptick

The national median rent rose to $1,388 after a 0.6% increase in March.

Rental Market Shows Signs of Life with March Uptick

The national median rent rose to $1,388 after a 0.6% increase in March.

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Good morning. The latest report from the Apartment List Research Team reveals a gradual uptick in the rental market as of March 2024. Meanwhile, one of the largest warehouse landlords acquired a $1B portfolio from Blackstone, significantly growing its presence in Southern California.

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Market Snapshot

S&P 500
GSPC
5,254.35
Pct Chg:
+0.11%
FTSE NAREIT
FNER
741.84
Pct Chg:
+0.11%
10Y Treasury
TNX
4.206%
Pct Chg:
+0.01
SOFR
1-month
5.31%
Pct Chg:
0.0%

*Data as of 3/28/2024 market close.

Spring Awakening

Despite Yearly Downtrend, Rental Market Shows Signs of Life with March Uptick

The April 2024 Apartment List National Rent Report shows the rental market rebounding, with national median rent rising to $1,388 after a 0.6% increase in March, signaling the end of a six-month slump.

A glut on the horizon: The supply side tells a story of increasing vacancies, with a national index of 6.7%. This is a continuation of a two-year trend of easing multifamily occupancy. With 2024 poised to see a surge in new apartment completions, the market braces for an abundance of options, potentially pushing vacancies even higher.

Cooling inflation: The slowdown in the rental market is now influencing U.S. inflation, particularly in housing costs reflected in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). As the Apartment List National Rent Index, which tracks new lease prices, had anticipated, CPI's housing inflation is cooling after a delayed response to 2021's rent spikes. This trend hints at a broader easing of inflation, with the Rent Index providing early signals for future CPI housing trends.

Rent growth: March saw rents rise in 81 of the top 100 cities, yet only 42 cities recorded year-over-year growth. The Sun Belt, known for its quick expansion, is witnessing notable rent declines, especially in Austin, Atlanta, and Nashville, where an influx of multifamily units is cooling the market.

Leading the way: Metros in the Midwest and Northeast are leading in rent growth, but not by much. Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, and Chicago stand out in the Midwest, while Hartford, Providence, and Washington DC mark the pace in the Northeast. Only Grand Rapids has seen rent increases surpass 5% YoY.

➥ THE TAKEAWAY 

Looking ahead: The April report identifies a pivotal moment for the rental market, with signs of recovery as we enter the high season for moving. Despite the negative year-over-year growth, the uptick in monthly rents and a notable construction pipeline suggest a market recalibration rather than a downturn. The balance between recovering demand and the influx of new units will be crucial in shaping the rental market landscape through 2024.

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✍️ Editor’s Picks

  • First-of-its-kind: Dolce & Gabbana, in partnership with JDS Development Group, announced their latest U.S. real estate venture, the 888 Brickell Condo Hotel.

  • Is it time? February's U.S. inflation met forecasts, hinting at possible midyear interest rate discussions with a 2.5% annual rise.

  • Declining demand: February saw U.S. commercial property prices fall, with demand hitting Great Recession levels, highlighted by a 1.4% monthly drop in CoStar's major city index and a 10.6% annual decline.

🏘️ MULTIFAMILY

  • Full circle: Amazon is nearing its $2 billion financing aim for 20,000 affordable homes in areas where its growth has spiked housing costs.

  • Rising rates: Nuveen is exiting the single-family rental market, transferring the management of 3,000 homes to Invitation Homes.

  • Dev. boost: Greystar and Resmark secure a $95 million loan for an 87-acre mixed-use project in Santa Clarita, featuring over 250 apartments and 60 townhomes at Sand Canyon Plaza.

  • Making moves: A developer has sold remaining interests in two multifamily buildings to Empire State Realty Trust and is set to acquire two properties on the Upper East Side.

  • On the rise: Gen Z is projected to spend $145,000 on rent by age 30, a 14% increase over Millennials' $127,000 at the same life stage.

🏭 Industrial

  • Shrinking footprint: UPS to close 200 centers and expand in key states, targeting cost cuts amid lower post-pandemic volumes.

  • Investment surge: Mexico hit a record $36B in foreign direct investment in 2023, up 2% from 2022, boosted by nearshoring and manufacturing growth for closer, cost-effective supply chains.

  • Shifting sectors: Silver Star Properties REIT secured $135 million to settle debts and liquidate a diverse 4.2 million sq. ft. portfolio, pivoting entirely to self storage.

🏬 RETAIL

  • Expansion: H-E-B is set to open a new 110,000 sq. ft. store with a fuel station in Georgetown, Austin's booming suburb, within a Barshop & Oles development.

  • Sale: Frayer Enterprises offloaded Airport Square, a 187,252 sq. ft. shopping center in Toledo, Ohio, to a Las Vegas investor for $11.9 million.

  • Revitalization: Trademark Property Co. to overhaul Arlington's Lincoln Square into a diverse mixed-use space, blending office, retail, hotel, entertainment, and residential elements.

🏢 OFFICE

  • Retail refocus: Whitestone REIT is selling its headquarters, the last of its office holdings, to focus on Sun Belt retail, listing the 106,000 sq. ft. Woodlake Plaza without a disclosed price.

  • Wait what? Despite lacking hard data, a broker forecasts a revival for Class B and C office spaces in 2023, with increased interest around major transport hubs and prime Midtown areas.

  • A big deal: Despite a controversial history, a Florida industrial plastic magnate has acquired Schaumburg Towers, marking a significant office property transaction in suburban Chicago.

DEAL OF THE DAY

Blackstone's Billion-Dollar Portfolio Sale to Rexford Industrial

Blackstone has offloaded a portfolio of 48 industrial properties in Southern California to Rexford Industrial Realty, racking up a cool $1 billion.

Deal details: The transaction encompasses a total of 48 industrial properties, summing up to 3,008,000 square feet, all strategically located within the highly sought-after infill markets of Los Angeles and Orange counties. The acquisition, which breaks down to an average cost of $332 per square foot, boasts a 98% lease occupancy rate. Funding for this massive deal came through Rexford Industrial’s recent exchangeable senior note offerings complemented by available cash reserves.

Between the lines: Howard Schwimmer and Michael Frankel, Rexford Industrial's Co-CEOs, said they look forward to expanding their partnership with Blackstone and the prospect of future deals. They noted that Rexford's investment pipeline now includes about $300 million in deals, contributing to a yearly total of $1.4 billion in investments. These investments are projected to yield an initial return of 5.0% and a stabilized return of 5.7%, both without leverage.

Blackstone’s POV: David Levine, Blackstone Real Estate’s Co-Head of Americas Acquisitions, stressed the deal's alignment with institutional investor demand for premium assets in prime markets like Southern California. He also reiterated Blackstone’s confidence in logistics and warehouse assets, noting the firm's massive global portfolio in this sector, valued at $175 billion.

➥ THE TAKEAWAY 

Why it matters: This deal comes at a time when Southern California's industrial market is seeing a mix of challenges and opportunities. Despite a slight plateau in demand and rent growth, the region's low vacancy rates and limited new development due to land scarcity continue to make it an attractive area for investment. Rexford's acquisition is a strategic move, securing a foothold in a market where large-scale portfolio deals have become increasingly rare.

📈 CHART OF THE DAY

According to the Burns Home Builder Survey, builders nationwide plan for double-digit growth, with land acquired to expand community offerings by 11% by year-end. Despite a recent slowdown due to rapid sell-outs, regions like Florida and the Southeast anticipate the highest growth, targeting a 17% increase in community counts for 2024.

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