No sign of slowing in Charlotte’s apartment boom

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Marcie Williams saw new leases rise 30% last summer after the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic stalled business for two months at RKW Residential. The firm manages about 8,500 apartments in Charlotte.

More recently, at the newly built Solis City Park near the old Charlotte Coliseum site off Tyvola Road, RKW signed at least 58 new leases in April — a company record, said Williams, RKW president. A good lease-up month sees 30 to 35 new leases signed, she added.

It’s quite a turnaround from last spring. Property managers and landlords implemented virtual tours, closed down property amenities and wondered whether a teetering economy, mass layoffs, furloughs and reduced hours would hit rent collections.

The industry did see fewer on-time rent payments and an increase in concessions. But the start of the new year saw steady improvement. In-migration and a tight housing market are bolstering the outlook.

Now, Charlotte’s apartment market is poised for a strong post-Covid recovery. In fact, according to many metrics, the industry is already seeing a big rebound.

Apartment rent nationally is seeing year-over-year growth, “We think there’s a lot of good tailwinds for the apartment market overall, and that will only improve as the overall economy continues to improve,” Couch said.

Between the start of the fourth quarter of 2020 and the end of first quarter of 2021 — winter months that are typically slower for the for-sale and rental housing markets — the average apartment rent in Charlotte increased 3% to $1,234, RealPage found. The current spring and summer months, the prime leasing season, are expected to build on that momentum.

The Charlotte metro could see nearly 10,900 apartments deliver in 2021, which would be a multidecade high, Couch said. That expected surge in inventory may moderate rental rate growth but, Couch said, he doesn’t expect the market to be oversupplied.

“It would be a concern to me if it was a market like New York or the Bay Area, where you’re seeing a lot of net move-outs, but there’s a lot of people moving to these Sunbelt metros,” he said.

Read the full story here for an in-depth look at what’s driving the apartment market in Charlotte.