7 Best Markets for Multifamily Investment

By on July 10, 2015

Researchers say multifamily properties still make for a smart investment, given that on a nationwide basis new development hasn’t caught up with new household formation. The question for many buyers is where they should park their money in order to reap maximum returns and avoid any backlash from potential overdevelopment. We spoke with John Chang, first vice president of research services with brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap and one of the authors of the firm’s recently-released 2015 National Apartment Report, about his recommendations.

Nashville, Tenn.

In Chang’s view, Nashville’s robust job market has been attracting a lot of new Millennial residents recently, so the city is on track to outperform the national market in 2015. Marcus & Millichap projects that by year-end, multifamily properties in Nashville will have an average vacancy rate of 4.8 percent, with average effective rents of $998 per month. At the same time, average sales price per unit is forecast to be $72,800. Savvy investors are beginning to catch wind—last year, the volume of investment in mid- and high-rise apartment buildings in the city rose 193 percent, to $376 million, according to research firm Real Capital Analytics (RCA).

Los Angeles

Los Angeles also seems poised to climb up in investor rankings, with year-end vacancy projected at 3.0 percent and average effective rent at a healthy $1,842 a month. Prices in the city will likely reach $178,600 per unit, according to Marcus & Millichap’s research. Be prepared to go low on the cap rate, however,—last year, the average on sales of mid- and high-rise apartment properties was 4.5 percent, reports RCA.


Chang includes Minneapolis in his top multifamily market picks due to the city’s strong employment base and dearth of new construction. By year-end, multifamily vacancy in Minneapolis should drop to 3.0 percent, while rents will average $1,068 a month—pretty high for a non-gateway city. “This market has benefited from some of the tightest vacancies in the nation over the last several years, giving Minneapolis exceptional momentum,” says Chang. In 2014, the volume of investment in mid- and high-rise apartment properties in Minneapolis rose 136 percent, to almost $327 million, according to RCA. The average cap rate on such transactions was 5.1 percent.

San Diego

Among the things San Diego has going for it is that “live-work-party” environment many Millennials crave, according to Chang, and apartment building values in the city will continue to appreciate. By year-end, rents will average a whopping $1,627 a month, while vacancy will be at 3.2 percent. Property prices, however, will still be below those in the Bay Area, at an average of $165,300 per unit. In 2014, investors tended to ignore San Diego in favor of other cities, with investment volume in mid- and high-rise apartment buildings falling 41 percent, to $226 million, in RCA’s analysis.


Denver combines an attractive job market with dwindling new construction, which should shore up property fundamentals in the months ahead. The city will likely see a vacancy rate of 4.3 percent by the end of the year, Marcus & Millichap predicts, with average rents at $1,310 per month. Meanwhile, prices on multifamily assets should remain relatively affordable, at $105,500 per unit. Going forward, however, competition may be heating up. RCA reports that last year, investment sales volume for mid- and high-rise buildings rose 258 percent, totaling more than $1 billion. Cap rates on apartment buys averaged 5.5 percent.

New York

Not much of a surprise that New York City, with its constantly surging population and a projected vacancy rate of 2.7 percent, has made the top list. “With virtually non-existent vacancies and steady rent appreciation, New York apartments are primed for appreciation in the coming year,” says Chang. Average effective rents will likely reach $4,090 per month in 2015, while price per unit will average around $368,300. You’ll have to elbow out a lot of other investors to get that prized asset, though. In 2014, investment sales volume for mid- and high-rise buildings in Manhattan alone was $9.776 billion and cap rates averaged 4.1 percent, according to RCA.

Bay Area

What other apartment rental market has fundamentals crazier than those in New York, you ask? Cities in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, make Chang’s best picks for investment in the multifamily sector in the coming year. Average vacancy by year-end will range from a high of 3.20 percent in San Francisco to a low of 2.3 percent in Oakland. Oakland will also likely offer the most affordable pricing, at $166,000 per unit (its rents are rather “low,” at an average of $1,965 a month), but San Francisco apartments should commend a whopping $274,944 per unit. Meanwhile, investment volume in San Jose rose 4,585 percent last year, to $531 million, with transactions closing at an average cap rate of 4.3 percent, the same as in San Francisco. “The Bay Area has some of the tightest vacancies and nation-leading rent growth,” says Chang. “Apartment values are rapidly accelerating and future supply growth will remain limited.”

Read more at National Real Estate Investor

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