Top 5 Markets for Transaction Activity in 2021

According to Yardi Matrix data, multifamily deals in the top five markets exceeded $18.5 billion in the first half of the year.
 

Last year was one of the most volatile years from an economic standpoint. Terms such as “unprecedented” and “uncertainty” have been thrown around in every industry, sector and field of activity, and recovery will be just as unsure. Consequently, last year’s second quarter—when volatility was at its peak—investment activity nearly came to a halt in some markets. 

In this piece, we explore transaction activity in the top markets during the first half of 2021, based on Yardi Matrix data, and touch on what is behind their recovery. In these metros, multifamily sales amounted to $18.5 billion, signaling steadily rising investor confidence, with both transaction volumes and property values up compared to the same period last year. Investors are drawn to these metros because of healthy economic growth and increasing quality of life, which have fueled in-migration.

Rank Market Transaction Volume H1 2021 Price Per Unit
1 Phoenix $4.55 billion $216,266
2 Dallas $4.45 billion $147,323
3 Atlanta $3.76 billion $159,209
4 Denver $3.07 billion $308,668
5 Miami $2.63 billion $243,968

Source: Yardi Matrix

5. Miami

Miami. Photo by Ryan Parker via Unsplash.com

South Florida showed solid signs of recovery in 2021, steadily rebounding from the pandemic. Contributing to the metro’s appeal is its low corporate income tax environment, and hedge fund Elliott Management is among the latest to announce the relocation of its headquarters to West Palm Beach from Midtown Manhattan.

During the first half of 2021, investors traded more than $2.6 billion in multifamily assets in metro Miami, which is almost three times the $877 million volume recorded during the same period in 2020 and already above the $2.5 billion total for last year.

Fort Lauderdale accounted for nearly half of the sales ($1.1 billion), followed by Miami ($815 million) and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton ($797 million). The price per unit rose 24.4 percent year-over-year to $243,968, well above the $172,960 national average. By June 2021, Harbor International Group was one of the most active buyers in the metro, expanding its portfolio by eight new additions for a combined value of $215 million.

4. Denver

Denver. Image by 12019 via Pixabay.com

Denver’s multifamily sales volume totaled $3.1 billion in the first half of 2021, nearly double the figure amassed during the same period last year. By the end of 2021, investment activity will likely surpass that of 2020 when nearly $4.9 billion in multifamily assets changed hands in the metro.

The per-unit price rose by a hefty 38.4 percent on a year-over-year basis to $308,668, which makes Denver the metro with the highest average price per unit among the top five markets on our list.

So far this year, Crow Holdings paid the highest amount for a property with the $435 million acquisition of the 1,184-unit Palomino Park Resort. The highest per-unit price was paid by RedPeak Properties: The investor paid $33.5 million, or $531,746 per unit, for Dayton Station Luxury Townhomes, a 63-unit single-family rental community in Aurora, Colo., completed last year.

3. Atlanta

Atlanta. Image by David Mark via Pixabay.com

Atlanta’s diverse economy is built on a sturdy foundation, which proved a winning combination amid the pandemic. With a focus on infrastructure, workforce and small business development, Atlanta’s employment market posted a contraction rate of just 1.0 percent in the 12 months ending in May.

And even in the wake of economic volatility, its resilience kept investors interested—some $3.8 billion in multifamily assets traded in the metro during the first six months of 2021, which is more than double the $1.7 billion registered during the same period last year. In 2020, overall multifamily sales totaled nearly $6.3 billion.

While development occurs predominantly in urban areas, investment was highest in suburban submarkets, where sales totaled some $2.4 billion. Nearly two-thirds of the properties that traded were Renter-by-Necessity assets, but the price per unit rose 20 percent year-over-year to $159,209. 

2. Dallas

Dallas-Fort Worth. Image by Tim Urban via Pixabay.com

The timely shutdown of Texas’ economy and the methodical reopening of businesses proved a winning strategy. Dallas-Fort Worth turned into a preferred destination for relocation and expansions for California companies, including CBRE, Charles Schwab, Incora, DZS, Facebook, Uber and Sunrider.

Through June, transaction volume topped $4.4 billion, more than double the $1.8 billion recorded during the same period last year. Investors spent $5.2 billion throughout 2020, so this year’s volume will likely exceed that figure.

As usual, investment activity was most intense in North Dallas ($2.2 billion), followed by Suburban Dallas (nearly $1.3 billion) and Fort Worth (nearly $1.2 billion). The price per unit inched up 13.9 percent to $147,323, remaining below the $172,960 national average. Tides Equities, Manhattan Five Partners and S2 Residential were among the most-active buyers in the metro.

1. Phoenix

Phoenix. Image by Evgeni Tcherkasski via Pixabay.com

Phoenix’s allure has been increasing over the past few years and its economic climate gained it first place on our list midway through 2021, with multifamily sales surpassing $4.5 billion. The figure is a big jump from the $1.6 billion registered during the same period last year and close to the nearly $5.2 billion recorded at the close of 2020.

Tides Equities has been one of the most active investors in the market, having purchased 1,657 units in six properties. The largest transaction was Millburn & Co.’s $178.5 million acquisition of Heritage at Deer Valley—the seller, Priderock Capital Partners, sold the 832-unit asset for $214,543 per unit.

The highest per-unit price was paid for The Nines at Kierland—Sunroad Enterprises paid $393,116 per unit, or $108.5 million, for the 276-unit Lifestyle asset in Scottsdale, Ariz., sold by Sentinel Real Estate.

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.