Top 10 Multifamily Markets by Sales Volume in 2021

10 min read

These cities accounted for nearly half of the annual investment activity, according to Yardi Matrix data.

Image by Randy Jost via Pixabay

The multifamily market had an exceptional year in 2021, exhibiting healthy fundamentals across the board. Behind the market’s unpredicted expansion was demand, with the pandemic highlighting not just the essential feature of the multifamily market, but also its resilient nature.

Although in 2021 the retail, office and hospitality industries showed some signs of recovery, they still struggled, leading to a shift in investment toward multifamily. The attention boosted the annual investment volume to a new high, surpassing $213 billion in 2021. The amount is more than double the $96 billion total recorded in 2020 and well above the previous investment peak recorded in 2019 of $129 billion.

Sales composition—primarily consisting of upscale Lifestyle assets—was a major factor to the investment volume increase, too. The hefty increase in construction materials prices has added to the surge in property values.

In the ranking below, we present the top 10 markets by multifamily investment volume in 2021, based on Yardi Matrix data. To put these numbers into perspective, we are comparing them with data from 2020 and 2019. Additional metrics used include the average price per unit and sales composition by asset class.

Metro Sales Volume 2021 Properties Sold 2021 Units Sold 2021 Average Sale Price Per Unit 2021
Dallas – Ft Worth $14,638,381,314 551 140,640 $171,005.13
Atlanta $14,462,137,683 325 83,765 $192,369.38
Phoenix $14,412,674,811 270 56,789 $258,166.74
Houston $11,059,042,386 426 115,011 $146,827.43
Denver $9,771,559,229 143 32,630 $322,238.47
Miami $9,310,892,009 201 45,806 $254,904.37
Washington, D.C. $7,283,430,008 111 33,241 $267,832.24
Orlando $5,736,315,365 128 33,434 $215,675.28
Tampa – St Petersburg – Clearwater $5,397,235,455 139 31,320 $197,556.20
Raleigh $5,143,848,320 99 24,845 $215,070.80

1. Dallas

Dallas skyline. Image courtesy of Unsplash

Dallas led the nation for both investment and inventory expansion in 2021. Last year, $14.6 billion in multifamily assets traded in the metro, surpassing the combined recorded volumes of 2020 ($5.7 billion) and 2019 ($6.2 billion). Moreover, the sales volume by quarter reflects gradually increasing investor activity: Q1 – $2.2 billion, Q2 – $3 billion, Q3 – $4.4 billion and Q4 – $5.1 billion. Specifically, 551 properties (140,640 units) changed ownership in 2021, well above the 294 properties (70,715 units) that traded in 2020 and the 328 properties (76,912 units) in 2019.

The average price per unit in Dallas rose by 26 percent year-over-year in 2021, to $171,005, which is 42.3 percent above the 2019 figure. By quality segment, the average per-unit price for upscale Lifestyle properties clocked in at $159,310 in 2021, while the working-class RBN per-unit average stood at $100,451.

Increased buyer demand created greater competition and boosted property values, but the rise in the average per-unit price was also due to sales composition, with investors primarily targeting Lifestyle assets: of the total volume, almost $9.5 billion involved upscale properties. Investor appetite for Lifestyle properties has increased gradually over the past three years: upscale assets accounted for 53.5 percent of the overall volume in 2019, up to 54.2 percent in 2020, and to 64.6 percent in 2021.

Notable investors in the metro in 2021 include S2 Residential, which acquired 7,546 units in 17 properties, Tides Equities—7,917 units in 25 properties—and LivCor—6,621 units in 16 properties.

2. Atlanta

Atlanta. Image by David Mark via Pixabay

Despite persisting economic volatility, investors were active in Atlanta, with multifamily sales nearing $14.5 billion in 2021, well above 2020’s amount ($6.5 billion) and nearly double the previous peak registered in 2019 ($7.9 billion). The fourth quarter was especially busy on the multifamily investment front, with nearly $6.5 billion in multifamily assets changing hands; Q3 totaled $3.2 billion in multifamily sales, Q2 followed with $2.6 billion, with the lowest sales total set in Q1 ($2.1 billion). In 2021, 325 properties (83,765 units) traded, in 2020 just 197 (47,232 units) and in 2019, 267 (65,671 units).

Atlanta’s average price per unit rose 25.8 percent to $192,369 on a year-over-year basis in 2021, which represents a 51.4 percent increase from 2019’s average. By asset class, the average per-unit price for Lifestyle properties stood at $230,374 in 2021, while the RBN per-unit average clocked in at $124,228.

Nearly 72 percent of the transaction volume involved Lifestyle properties in 2021 ($10.4 billion), which explains the average per-unit price uptick; in 2020, just the volume amount was lower, as sales composition was almost identical to that of last year—roughly 73 percent of all sales were perfected for upscale assets. In 2019, investor appetite was more balanced between asset classes, with 66.3 percent of sales subjecting Lifestyle properties.

Notable investors in the metro in 2021 include Starwood Capital Group ($647 million), Greystar ($587 million), LiveCor ($571 million) and Bridge Investment Group ($453 million).

Data provided by Yardi Matrix

3. Phoenix

Phoenix. Image by Evgeni Tcherkasski via Pixabay

Phoenix performed strongly in 2021, with the multifamily investment volume crossing the $14 billion mark. Investors traded more than $14.4 billion in multifamily assets, a 143 percent hike over 2020 levels and nearly double the $7.4 billion total of 2019. Similar to Dallas, investor activity in Phoenix increased progressively from one quarter to the next: Q1 – $2 billion, Q2 – $3.1 billion, Q3 – $4.2 billion and Q4 – $5 billion. In 2021, 270 properties (56,789 units) changed ownership in Phoenix up from 151 properties (32,552 units) in 2020 and well above the 208 assets that traded in 2019.

The latest spike in property values pushed Phoenix out of the affordable markets pool: The average per-unit price in the metro hit $258,167 last year, a significant 37.6 percent annual increase, and 56.4 percent above 2019 figures. By property class, the average per-unit price for Lifestyle properties rose to $338,295 in 2021, while the RBN per-unit average increased to $191,163.

Sales composition had little effect on the per-unit price as in 2021 and 2020 the Lifestyle segment accounted for 54.9 percent and 54 percent. In 2019, investor interest was tilted toward the upscale segment, with two-thirds of sales involving Lifestyle assets.

Notable investors in Phoenix in 2021 include Tides Equities ($711 million), Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. ($602 million) and Decron Properties ($570 million).

4. Houston

Houston’s total multifamily sales volume rose to $11.1 billion, making it one of only four metros in the country with double-digit sales figures. In 2020, only $2.6 billion in multifamily assets (just 23.4 percent of 2021’s figure) changed hands, below 2019’s $4.5 billion. Transaction activity was especially intense in the fourth quarter, which accounted for nearly half of the total volume ($4.9 billion); in Q3, $3.5 billion in multifamily assets traded, in Q2 $1.5 billion and $1.2 billion in Q1. Last year, 426 properties (115,011 units) were traded in Houston, nearly three times the 145 properties (32,257 units) sold in 2020 and almost double the 226 properties (59,036 units) that traded in 2019.

From a property value standpoint—at $146,827 in 2021—Houston was the most affordable among the markets in this ranking. However, its average per-unit price rose 24.4 percent in 2021, and 29.3 percent since 2019. By property class, the average per-unit price for Lifestyle properties clocked in at $163,772 in 2021, nearly double the RBN per-unit average of $86,939.

For the past three years, investment activity has focused on upscale properties, which partially explains the price appreciation during the interval: 68.7 percent of last year’s transactions were for Lifestyle properties, in 2020, the figure was 63.4 percent, while in 2019 it clocked in at 66.1 percent.

Investors that reported consistent portfolio expansions in the market in 2021 include Greystar (5,667 units), Knitvest Capital (2,580 units) and Madera Cos. (2,133 units).

5. Denver

Denver. Image by Andrew Coop via Unsplash

Denver’s multifamily investment volume more than doubled in 2021 ($9.8 billion) compared to 2020 ($4.5 billion) and well above the previous peak in 2019 ($5.2 billion). Mirroring Houston and Atlanta, investors were especially active during the fourth quarter, when $4.3 billion in multifamily assets traded. Last year’s total resulted from the sale of 143 properties (32,630 units), while in 2020 and 2019, 92 (22,234 units) and 99 properties (22,984 units) changed ownership.

Denver was the priciest of all 10 metros in this ranking, with the average per-unit price at $322,238 following a 26.3 percent annual increase and a 31.4 appreciation compared to 2019. The average price per unit for Lifestyle apartments rose to $389,383 in 2021, while the RBN average stood at $209,367.

In 2021, 74.3 percent of all sales subjected Lifestyle properties, while in 2020 and 2019, the spread was somewhat more balanced, with upscale properties accounting for 60.9 percent and 64.9 percent of the total, respectively.

Notable investors in Denver in 2021 include Starwood Capital Group ($900 million for 2,169 units) and LivCor ($446 million for 1,152 units).

Average price per unit
Data provided by Yardi Matrix

6. Miami

Image by MustangJoe via Pixabay

Investors traded more than $9.3 billion in Miami multifamily assets in 2021, a big jump from the $2.4 billion in 2020 and $2.7 billion in 2019. Overall, in 2021, 201 properties, or 45,806 units changed ownership, well above 2020 (63 properties, or 15,911 units) and 2019 (79 properties, or 19,265 units).

The price per unit in Miami posted a 14.1 percent year-over-year increase in 2021, to $254,904, and a 26.5 percent increase since 2019. Specifically, the average Lifestyle per-unit price rose to $270,133, and the RBN value stood at $147,522.

For the past two years, investors preferred upscale assets, as shown by the sales composition: 70.3 percent in 2021 and 73.8 percent in 2020. In 2019, transactions reported a good balance between property classes, with Lifestyle properties accounting for 56.1 percent of all sales.

Notable investors in the Miami market in 2021 include LivCor ($776 million for 8,418 units) and Cortland ($647 million for 2,922 units).

7. Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. Image by David Mark via Pixabay

Washington, D.C., also posted increased activity on the investment front, with nearly $7.3 billion in multifamily assets trading in 2021, above the volumes recorded in 2020 ($6.1 billion) and 2019 ($6.6 billion). Last year, 111 properties (33,241 units) changed hands, more than the 93 properties (30,036 units) that sold in 2020, but fewer than the 120 properties (32,433 units) that changed ownership in 2019.

The price per unit in the District rose 4.5 percent year-over-year in 2021, to $267,832, and marked an 8 percent increase since 2019. By property class level, Lifestyle assets had an average per-unit price of $272,885 in 2021, while RBN properties clocked in at $194,734 per unit.

Investor demand for multifamily assets has been increasingly leveled between property classes from 2019 onward: Sales composition accounting for the Lifestyle segment dropped from 66.1 percent in 2019, to 62.7 percent in 2020 and further down to 55.8 percent in 2021.

Notable buyers in Washington, D.C., include Jair Lynch Development Partners ($563 million for 2,062 units), Washington Housing Conservancy ($402 million for 1,042 units) and Akelius Real Estate Management ($377 million for 1,163 units).

8. Orlando

Image by Michelle Raponi via Pixabay

Orlando overcame initial economic struggles brought by the health crisis and investment activity is a telling sign for its performance. More than $5.7 billion in multifamily assets traded in 2021, more than double 2020’s $2.2 billion total, and well as above the $3.1 billion figure of 2019. In 2021, 128 properties (33,434 units) changed ownership, leading the 57 (13,964 units) and 77 properties (20,055 units) that traded in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Orlando’s average price per unit increased to $215,675 in 2021, following a 17.1 percent year-over-year appreciation, and up 23.7 percent since 2019. By property class, Lifestyle assets had an average per-unit price of $225,307 in 2021, while RBN properties clocked in at $101,083 per unit.

Based on sales composition, in 2021, investors regained their focus on upscale properties and accounted for 77.2 percent of all sales; in 2020 the rate stood at 59.8 percent and in 2019 at 73.4 percent.

Notable investors in Orlando in 2021 include Nitya Capital ($263 million) and LivCor ($179 million).

sales composition by asset class
Data provided by Yardi Matrix

9. Tampa

Tampa. Image by Michelle Raponi via Pixabay

The third Florida metro in our ranking, Tampa’s investment volume in 2021 nearly reached $5.4 billion (139 properties, or 31,320 units), double 2020’s $2.7 billion total (75 properties, or 19,307 units) and well above the $3.8 billion amount of 2019 (94 properties, or 24,843 units). Multifamily investment activity accelerated during the second half of 2021: from $599 million in the first quarter, to $643 million in the second quarter, to $1.8 billion in Q3, then $2.4 billion in the final quarter.

The average price per unit in the metro stood at $197,556 in 2021, following a 25.4 percent year-over-year increase. In 2020, the per-unit price had dipped 1.6 percent, to $157,519. By property class, the average per-unit price for Lifestyle assets stood at $244,521, while for RBN apartments it clocked in at $126,793.

The sales composition paints a picture similar to Orlando’s: In 2021, Lifestyle assets accounted for 64.5 percent of all sales, following a more balanced year in 2020, when the rate stood at 50.8 percent, and almost on par with 2019 (66.5 percent).

Notable investors in the Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater area include LivCor ($273 million), Morgan Properties ($242 million) and Starwood Capital Group ($232 million).

10. Raleigh

The Triangle posted some of the country’s strongest rental fundamentals in 2021, which investors found extremely attractive, and consequently, they poured more than $5.1 billion into 99 multifamily deals (24,845 units), more than double 2020’s volume of $2.2 billion (62 properties, or 12,797 units) and well above 2019’s $2.9 billion total (83 properties, or 19,507 units). Investor involvement in the market grew from just $322 million in the first quarter, to $858 million in the second one, to $1.7 billion in Q3, ending the year with $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter.

The average price per unit rose 17.1 percent year-over-year in 2021, to $215,071, and 36.2 percent since 2019. The average Lifestyle per-unit price stood at $223,963 in 2021, while the RBN value clocked in at $155,574.

Investors were primarily drawn to upscale properties in Raleigh, with Lifestyle assets accounting for 70.8 percent of all sales in 2021; the rate was much higher in 2020 (87 percent) and 2019 (75.2 percent).

Notable investors in Raleigh in 2012 include Starwood Capital Group ($579 million), LivCor ($484 million) and Braddock & Logan ($275 million).

Yardi Matrix covers all multifamily properties of 50-plus units across 140 markets in the United States. This ranking reflects transactions within that sample group.

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