Riding the wave of employment gains in high-paying industries, Baltimore’s multifamily market is recording strengthened fundamentals as the year’s second half advances. The average rent in the metro was up 2.8 percent year-over-year through July, marking a visible improvement from one year prior, when rates in the Lifestyle sector were contracting, although it trails the U.S. figure. And while 2018 marked another development-cycle high, absorption remained healthy and the occupancy rate in stabilized properties inched up 40 basis points over 12 months, reaching 95.0 percent as of June.
Baltimore gained 11,700 jobs for a 0.8 percent uptick, roughly half the U.S. rate of growth, with professional and business services and education and health services offsetting losses across several other sectors. Although the metro’s employment market is spotty, several multi-phase, multibillion-dollar projects are moving forward, including Howard Hughes’ Merriweather District in Columbia, Sagamore’s $5.5 billion Port Covington and the roughly 3,100-acre Tradepoint Atlantic redevelopment in Sparrows Point.
Both development and transactions shifted down a gear in the first half of 2019, with 704 units delivered and less than $400 million in assets trading through July. With overall supply and demand close to a stable balance, we expect rent growth to remain tepid for the year, below the U.S. average.