Although not immune to the pandemic, the downturn had a milder impact on Austin’s economy and multifamily market, as evident at the beginning of 2021. Strong population expansion strengthened demand, and rents rose 0.8 percent on a trailing three-month basis through May, to $1,411. Despite robust deliveries, occupancy in stabilized properties was relatively mildly affected, dropping by 50 basis points in the 12 months ending in April, to 93.6 percent.
Unemployment slid to 4.5 percent in April, outperforming the 6.1 percent U.S. rate, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment shrunk by just 2.8 percent in the 12 months ending in March, outperforming the 6.9 percent national contraction. Six sectors gained jobs, with the metro’s largest sectors, professional and business services and trade, transportation and utilities, leading with 16,500 jobs combined. Austin’s business-friendly environment and talent pool continued to attract companies looking to relocate or expand—Tesla and Apple have large projects underway, and Oracle relocated its headquarters here. In addition, Samsung is considering the Texas capital for a new $17 billion chip plant that could create 1,800 jobs.
Developers delivered 3,336 units in 2021 through May and had another 33,940 units under construction. Meanwhile, during the first five months of 2021, transaction activity totaled $577 million, and the per-unit price continued to rise, up by 6.4 percent to $160,058.