The Census Bureau, in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), recently released the Survey of Market Absorption (SOMA), which tracks apartment and condominium completions, absorption rates (the share of apartments/condos rented or purchased within the first 3 months after completion), and asking prices.
In the first quarter of 2017, completions of unfurnished, unsubsidized, privately financed apartments for rent in buildings with five or more units totaled to 61,000, up 10 percent from the first quarter of 2016 (55,100). Meanwhile, the absorption rate remained unchanged at 55 percent from the same period last year (Figure 1). The median asking rent was $1,498 with no significant difference from the asking rent of $1,456 in the first quarter of 2016.
Looking at the long term trend, the absorption rate has leveled off somewhat and completions started to come down from their 2015 peak. Although multifamily rentals remains robust, this marks the market converging to an equilibrium point.
In the first quarter of 2017, condominium completions stood at 3,700, up from the 3,000 that were built in the first quarter of 2016. The condominium absorption rate also increased, going from 65 percent in the first quarter of 2016, to 71 percent in first quarter of 2017 (Figure 2). The year-over-year growth in both completions and the absorption rate signals a strengthening condominium market.
Figure 3 shows the share of rental apartments in buildings with five or more units that are subsidized by a tax credit or by some other government program (HUD and USDA programs) as a share of total units completed in the first quarter of 2017. Eight percent of apartment completions were comprised of subsidized units (5,800 units). This is down from the first quarter of 2016: 10 percent of total units completed, or 6,400 units, were subsidized.
 Apartments subsidized by multifamily bonds not included in count.