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.