Multifamily Rental Properties: Would You Believe 2.25 Million?

According to a new survey sponsored by HUD and conducted by Census Bureau, there are 2.25 million multifamily rental properties in the U.S.  You may wonder if we really needed a new survey to tell us this.  The short answer is yes.


In the decennial Census and virtually all surveys of housing, the government goes to housing units and starts by asking questions of the occupants.  You can count most single-family properties this way, but not multifamily properties that, by definition, have more than one unit per property.

To fill the information gap, NAHB has been a strong advocate of something like the new Rental Housing Finance Survey (RHFS).   One advantage of the RHFS is that it goes to property owners and mangagers, and therefore can collect information about items like upkeep and financing that tenants of rental apartments typically don’t know.  But one of the reasons NAHB has long been advocating a property-level survey like this is simply to get very basic information on counts of buildings and properties.

According to the RHFS, the lion’s share of the 2.25 million multifamily rental properties in the U.S.—1.64 million—consist of a single apartment building.  There are, of course, properties with more than one building—nearly 100,000 properties have 20 or more.  On average, multifamily rental properties turn out to have 2.5 buildings, so the total number of multifamily rental buildings in the U.S. works out to 5.6 million.


A lot of the 2.25 million properties would be classified as small by most standards.  Over 1.4 million of them are valued by their owners at less than $500,000.  About 850,000 are even valued at less than $200,000.  Although a little over 6 percent of owners failed to report the current market value of their properties to the RHFS, that still leaves more than 2.1 million multifamily properties, and they have a total market value that adds up to roughly $3.8 trillion.

For readers who like more infomation, the Census Bureau has a number of additional statistics in tables posted on its RHFS website.  NAHB is also in the process of analyzing the new multifmaily rental data and will feature it in upcoming blogs.

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7 replies

  1. Rentals are likely to be hot for at least the next fews years because all actions continue to be making it harder to buy a first home. I believe smart builders, developers and lenders will be building approved condominiums, renting them at a very good price until the market returns to near normal levels when they can be sold as leases expire. A good many of the tenants are likely to opt to purchase. Why not turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse?

  2. It does not surprise me that this is a growing trend with rental properties. I personally work with residential properties, but many people are looking for ways to make multi-generational houses work, often through additions or renovations.

    I’m not sure what to think of the trend. It may not be all bad, despite the fact that it is motivated by economic fears. People may find joy that they had forgotten living with their grandparents (or grandchildren). The modern internet-oriented life is lonely enough, and this may bring people together.

  3. I wonder what price range is considered luxury apartments. Does it start at 50 mill? Usually these are the ones that have over 10 or more buildings.


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