Apartment Rents, Occupancy Steady in 2007, Says New Data Reporting Site

By Anuradha Kher, Online News Editor Scottsdale, Ariz.–Despite all the unrest in the housing industry due to the sub prime mortgage crises, the rental multifamily industry remained stable. The average apartment rental rates nationwide increased by only 1.9 percent in 2007, according to Realty DataTrust, a source that aggregates leasing data for the apartment industry. During the same period, vacancy decreased from 5.4 percent to 5.3 percent.Founded by Mike Mueller in early 2007, Realty DataTrust is designed to become a research tool for people looking to analyze trends in the apartment market as well as a resource for investors. This is the company’s first report. “The Realty DataTrust reports are particularly interesting because their information comes directly from property management systems of apartment companies,” Jack Kern, managing director of Kern Investment Research Counselors and vice chairman of the National Multi Housing Council’s Research Committee tells MHN. The findings, down to the county level, for month on month and year on year changes, are published on padzing.com, the company’s reporting site and are based on data collected from nearly 900,000 apartment units nationwide. The study represents nearly 100 management companies. “On the website, we see rent changes in real time. Currently, most apartment rent data is reported after a significant lag, due to telephone surveys and statistical modeling. In my view, investors want real time data,” says Kern.The rent increases reported by Realty DataTrust for 2007 are consistent with what most owners are experiencing. “This past week, at the NMHC’s apartment strategies conference, the overall consensus of owners and investors was that 2007 was generally a good year in terms of rent increases. 2008 and 2009, barring unforeseen economic calamities, will continue to see rent growth,” Kern tells MHN. Kern also estimates that rent growth in 2008 is currently at or slightly above the rate of inflation in most places.In 2007, the company launched the beta version of the PadZing.com, a website tracking apartment market trends by aggregating data from a contributor base of nearly 900,000 apartment units.