This article was posted on Sunday, Sep 01, 2019

Multifamily Housing Survey Finds Strong Demand But Rent Control Threatens to Dim Outlook

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The enduring strength of the apartment market was the main takeaway of the National Multifamily Housing Council’s (NMHC) Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions for July 2019, as the Market Tightness (60), Equity Financing (56), and Debt Financing (80) indexes all came in above the breakeven level (50). The Sales Volume Index (48) indicated a continued softness in property sales, albeit with considerable disagreement among respondents. 

“These latest figures illustrate that, in spite of construction levels hovering near recent highs, there remains significant pent-up demand for apartments,” noted NMHC Chief Economist Mark Obrinsky. “Nearly a third (32 percent) of respondents reported stronger rents and occupancy levels, while just 11 percent indicated looser market conditions.”
While the industry outlook is positive, political and regulatory threats like rent control threaten to upend regional markets. Among respondents to the NMHC Quarterly Survey, sixty-two percent operate in jurisdictions that have either recently imposed rent control or are seriously considering doing so. Of this group, a fifth (20 percent) has already cut back on investment or development in these markets, while an additional 60 percent is considering making changes in the future. 

  • The Market Tightness Index increased from 52 to 60, indicating overall improving conditions for the second consecutive quarter. Nearly one-third (32%) of respondents reported tighter market conditions than three months prior, compared to 11 percent who reported looser conditions. Over half (57 percent) of respondents felt that conditions were no different from last quarter.
  • The Sales Volume Index rose from 45 to 48, with 26 percent of respondents reporting lower sales volume than three months prior. A slightly smaller group – 22 percent of respondents – reported higher sales volume, while 45 percent regarded volume as unchanged.
  • The Equity Financing Index rose from 53 to 56, marking the seventh straight quarter of improving or unchanged conditions. Twenty percent of respondents reported that equity financing was more available than in the three months prior, compared to only eight percent who believed equity financing was less available. Meanwhile, the majority of respondents (61 percent) thought that conditions were unchanged in the equity market.
  • The Debt Financing Index inched down from 81 to 80. For the second straight quarter, the majority of respondents (61 percent) reported better conditions for debt financing compared to the three months prior, while only two (2) percent felt that financing conditions were less favorable. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of respondents reported unchanged conditions. 

About the Survey:
The July 2019 Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions was conducted July 8-15, 2019; 106 CEOs and other senior executives of apartment-related firms nationwide responded. To view the full survey, go to 

Based in Washington, D.C., the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) is the leadership of the trillion-dollar apartment industry. We bring together the prominent apartment owners, managers and developers who help create thriving communities by providing apartment homes for 39 million Americans. NMHC provides a forum for insight, advocacy and action that enables both members and the communities they help build to thrive. For more information, contact NMHC at 202/974-2300, e-mail the Council at [email protected], or visit NMHC’s web site at

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