Top 10 Markets for Construction Activity

These markets account for 39 percent of the nation’s pipeline, according to Yardi Matrix data.

Despite volatile market conditions in the past year, the multifamily sector remained a solid performer, with continued rent growth and steady development activity across the country. While developers experienced some construction delays due to the lack of construction materials and rising costs, multifamily projects continued to break ground.

Nationwide, some 864,000 units across 4,059 properties were under construction as of May, according to Yardi Matrix data. Of these, 121,783 units broke ground between January and May 2021. The total number of apartments underway in the 10 metros on the list represents nearly 39 percent of the country’s development pipeline. The table below utilizes Yardi Matrix data to highlight the top markets for development in terms of units under development.

Rank Metro Units Under Construction Percentage of Existing Stock
1 Dallas 48,934 6.2%
2 Washington, D.C. 43,293 7.9%
3 Miami Metro 39,807 12.8%
4 Austin 33,226 13.1%
5 Houston 31,675 4.8%
6 Phoenix 31,371 9.8%
7 Los Angeles 28,237 6.4%
8 New York 28,020 4.9%
9 San Francisco 24,929 9.4%
10 Seattle 24,818 9.5%

Source: Yardi Matrix

10. Seattle

Seattle. Photo by Marco Bicca via Unsplash.com

Seattle’s robust economic expansion and tech presence have contributed to creating demand for consistent multifamily deliveries in recent years. In 2020, the metro gained 40,813 residents, up 1 percent year-over-year and 60 basis points above the national figure, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Major tech employers include Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, which continue to attract well-educated Millennials and Gen Zers to the metro. Despite embracing the remote-work model, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook all expanded their local footprints. 

As of May, 108 multifamily properties were under construction, encompassing a total of 24,818 units. The projects account for 9.5 percent of the metro’s inventory. The majority of the properties underway are near the urban core, along Interstate 5, in neighborhoods such as Belltown and Capitol Hill/Eastlake.

9. San Francisco 

Pandemic-driven relocation trends strongly influenced San Francisco’s multifamily market in 2020, putting downward pressure on rental rates in one of the least-affordable regions in the country. Development, however, powered through, with more than 5,000 units delivered in 2020.

Construction activity remained strong in San Francisco, with a total of 24,929 units under construction as of May. The 135 multifamily projects account for 9.4 percent of the region’s total stock. While another 116,720 units were in the planning and permitting stages, fluid market conditions will likely shrink this number.

8. New York

New York City. Photo by Rebecca Hankins via Unsplash
New York City. Photo by Rebecca Hankins via Unsplash.com

New York City is another gateway market that was shaped by pandemic-induced migration trends. As the city prepares for a post-COVID-19 reality, plans to return to the office, to in-person classes and to open beaches and museums are slowly taking shape.

Construction remained elevated in New York—in May, the pipeline counted more than 28,020 units across 88 projects underway, accounting for 4.9 percent of the metro’s stock. Around 5,900 under-construction units, or 23 properties, are fully affordable. However, more than half of the pipeline is geared toward high-income renters.

7. Los Angeles

The Southern California metro entered 2021 with the second-highest unemployment rate nationwide, regaining less than half of the 660,000 jobs lost last April, Marcus & Millichap researchers noted. Although, as the state slowly reopens and the metro takes steps toward recovery, unemployment was still at 11.1 percent in April, well above the 6.1 percent national figure, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Despite volatile economic conditions, developers remained active in Los Angeles, with 173 multifamily projects under construction, encompassing a total of 28,237 units as of May. Projects underway account for 6.4 percent of the metro’s total inventory. Most of the new development is located near the urban core, in Koreatown and Westlake North neighborhoods, whereas several affordable housing projects are clustered in Eastern Los Angeles, near the Harbor and Century Freeways.

6. Phoenix

Phoenix. Image by Thomas Sims via Pixabay.com

Thanks to its proximity to dense California metros and its tax-friendly environment, Phoenix has been benefiting from migration and company relocation trends in recent years. The metro added more than 100,000 residents in 2020, up 2.1 percent year-over-year, based on preliminary U.S. Census data. As the pandemic has accelerated migration trends, Phoenix will likely continue to expand in the future.

As of May, Phoenix had 31,371 units under construction across 131 properties. The new developments account for 9.8 percent of the metro’s stock. The most popular submarkets are Gilbert, Sky Harbor, Western Suburbs and North Tempe, with 14,347 underway units concentrated in these areas.

5. Houston

The health crisis and the oil and gas price crash have put significant pressure on Houston’s economy in the last year. However, multifamily development pushed through, with more than 13,900 units, or 53 properties, delivered in 2020.

Houston had 31,675 units under construction as of May, with upscale projects comprising the bulk of the pipeline. Affordable projects accounted for 4.7 percent, encompassing 1,496 units across 11 properties. West End/Downtown led construction activity, with 6,201 units underway, followed by Avonak, with 2,062 units in the pipeline.

4. Austin

Austin is another market benefiting from positive migration trends and company relocations. The metro added 57,200 residents in 2020, up 3.0 percent year-over-year, well above the national rate. Amid the health crisis, Tesla announced plans for the Tesla Gigafactory, bringing 5,000 jobs to the metro, while Oracle announced that it will move its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Austin.

A total of 13,068 units were delivered in 2020, well above the 8,858 completed in 2019. As of May, Austin had 33,226 units under construction across 135 properties. The projects account for 13.1 percent of Austin’s inventory. Between January and May 2021, developers broke ground on 19 properties, encompassing 5,119 units.


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3. Miami

Miami. Photo by Ryan Parker via Unsplash.com

Due to its heavy reliance on tourism, Metro Miami’s economy has faced major challenges in the past year, but the metro remained resilient. As of April 2021, the jobless rate stood at 5.9 percent, 20 basis points below the national rate, according to BLS data. Relocation trends accelerated by COVID-19 continue to make Miami a popular relocation spot for both residents and companies, helping the metro on its path to full recovery.

Metro Miami had 39,807 units under construction as of May, with more than 86 percent of those targeting high-income earners. The 148 properties underway accounted for 12.8 percent of the metro’s existing inventory. Between January and May, developers broke ground on 7,234 units in 27 projects, slightly lower than the volume during the same interval last year when a total of 7,464 units across 34 projects broke ground.

2. Washington, D.C.

The presence of the federal government and related industries has helped Washington, D.C., maintain a generally strong economy throughout the COVID-19 crisis compared to other large metros in the U.S. Nonetheless, as the pandemic emptied urban cores and prompted residents to move to less densely populated areas, the occupancy rate slid 1 percent year-over-year, to 93.8 percent as of May.

Despite demographic shifts induced by the pandemic, multifamily developers remained active in the district, with a total of 43,293 apartments underway in 134 properties as of May. The Brentwood/Trinidad/Woodbridge and Barry Farms/Saint Elizabeths submarkets were most favored by developers, where 29 projects were underway, totaling 10,681 units.

1. Dallas

Dallas – Ft. Worth. Image by Tim Urban from Pixabay.com

In May, Dallas had nearly 49,000 units underway across 184 projects. Of these, more than 6,100 units in 25 properties broke ground between January and May 2021.

Although the number of units dropped significantly from the 12,827 recorded during the same interval last year, the metro’s steadily growing population is still fueling demand for new housing stock. Dallas-Fort Worth gained 1.3 million residents over the past decade, marking a 20.4 percent growth rate.

As of May, more than half of the projects—a total of 25,414 units—were concentrated in North Dallas, with the bulk of the developments geared toward the upscale segment. North Dallas had only four affordable properties underway, encompassing 916 units. Developers were also active in Fort Worth, with 13,766 units in 55 properties under construction.

Yardi Matrix covers all multifamily properties of 50-plus units across 133 markets in the United States. This ranking reflects transactions for properties within that sample group.