Confidence in the market for new multifamily housing improved in the second quarter of 2019, according to results from the Multifamily Market Survey (MMS) released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The MMS produces two separate indices. The Multifamily Production Index (MPI) increased 16 points to 56 compared to the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI) fell eight points to 40, with lower numbers indicating fewer vacancies.
The MPI measures builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condo market on a scale of 0 to 100. The index and all of its components are scaled so that a number below 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are getting worse than report conditions are improving.
The MPI is a weighted average of three key elements of the multifamily housing market: construction of low-rent units—apartments that are supported by low-income tax credits or other government subsidy programs; market-rate rental units—apartments that are built to be rented at the price the market will hold; and for-sale units—condominiums. All three components posted gains in the second quarter: The component measuring low-rent units increased nine points to 56, the component measuring market rate rental jumped 22 points to 64 and the component measuring for-sale units rose 19 points to 50.
The MVI measures the multifamily housing industry’s perception of vacancies in existing apartments. It is a weighted average of current occupancy indexes for class A, B, and C multifamily units, and can vary from 0 to 100, where a number under 50 indicates more property managers believe vacancies are decreasing than increasing. With a reading of 40, this is the lowest reading since the second quarter of 2017.
“Overall, builders and developers are reporting increased confidence in the multifamily housing market,” said Gary Campbell, CEO of Gilbert G. Campbell Real Estate in Lowell, Mass., and chairman of NAHB’s Multifamily Council. “However, they still have to deal with the high cost of land, labor and regulation, which could impact future production.”
“Historically, the MPI and MVI tend to move one to three months ahead of U.S. Census figures for multifamily starts and vacancy rates, but in the second quarter we saw positive gains in both the NAHB and Census measures at the same time,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “This is a sign of solid demand for multifamily housing in the second quarter, which was supported by low unemployment and a healthy number of household formations.”