Atlanta’s economic foundation, focused on infrastructure, workforce expansion and small business development proved to be a successful resiliency strategy. The multifamily market exhibited healthy fundamentals, with rents posting a strong performance in the second half of 2020, then slightly softening in the first quarter of 2021, up by 0.3 percent on a trailing three-month basis through March to $1,378. Despite robust supply additions, the occupancy rate in stabilized properties increased by 110 basis points in the 12 months ending in February, to 94.8 percent.
The unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent in January, and February preliminary data pointed to sustained recovery, with the figure sliding further to 4.5 percent. The employment market shrunk by just 3.5 percent in the 12 months ending in December, outperforming the -6.8 percent U.S. rate. Two sectors gained jobs, led by the largest one—trade, transportation and utilities, up by 2.8 percent or 17,200 jobs. Record levels of container traffic at the Port of Savannah boosted the distribution sector and sustained demand for industrial space. Professional and business services contracted by 4.4 percent in 2020, but is poised to recover as tech companies announced expansions in 2021.
In the first quarter of 2021 multifamily sales amounted to $1.3 billion, for a per-unit price that rose 10.1 percent to $148,525. Meanwhile, 2,779 units came online and 20,037 were underway.