"People have short memories," noted Calvin Schnure, vice president of research at the association. "We've seen a big increase in construction from the very depressed levels that we had during the depths of the recession, but in terms of overall construction, we're barely back to what a trend pace would be with a national population the size we have in the U.S."
New apartment construction has certainly been robust, with nearly 42,000 units completed nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to forecasting firm REIS Inc. That was the highest since 2003 and a harbinger of things to come in 2014.
About 1 in 3 new housing units being built are rental apartments, the highest level in 40 years, according to the U.S. Census. At the same time, vacancies continue to drop and rents continue to rise, albeit not as strongly as they had been during the worst of the housing crash.
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"There is also growing recognition of demographic trends that are shaping the housing market, and pent-up demand for apartments especially among 18- to 30-year-olds. Missing are 1 million new households compared to previous economic recoveries, as people live with their parents or double up with roommates," added Schnure.
That demand could be unleashed as the job market improves and more younger Americans are able to afford living on their own. As for competition from single-family housing, which slowed in the first quarter of this year, analysts are not concerned.
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