- October 2012: Vol. 24 No. 9

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The Looming Crisis: The Rapidly Rising Cost of Affordable Rental Housing

by Richard Burns

For multifamily real estate, it is the best of times and the worst of times. For market-rate apartments it is the best of times.

According to a recent report by the real estate research firm Reis, Inc., multifamily market fundamentals are making a rapid recovery:

• U.S. apartment vacancies dropped to a 10-year low in fourth quarter 2011, allowing for rent increases that are likely to continue through 2012. The vacancy rate fell to 5.2 percent, the lowest since the end of 2001.

• The vacancy rate has declined for seven straight quarters, from a 30-year high of 8 percent in 2009 to a rate that could be less than 5 percent in 2012.

• The average monthly effective rent (what tenants pay after landlord concessions) climbed 2.3 percent from a year earlier to $1,009.

• According to Reis, the apartment sector is benefitting from some

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