The demand for Chittenden County Multi Family remains strong despite the most tumultuous year in any of our lifetimes. The Burlington area rental property market is well-positioned to endure bumps in the road while maintaining a consistent and moderate upward trajectory. A close look at the key metrics offers optimism for both tenants and landlords alike.
The Chittenden County apartment market is experiencing the lowest apartment vacancy rate in the last 6 years according to Allen, Brooks & Minor (December 2020 = 1.1%). Government sponsored rental housing stabilization funding and a decrease in new construction coming on line are key contributing factors to the record-low vacancy rate. Anecdotally, we've also heard that student rental properties reported very few delinquencies even with the challenges that local universities are facing with in-person learning during a pandemic.
The decrease in new apartments was heavily influenced by a six-week shutdown of all non-essential new construction in Spring of 2020 and a limited supply of labor and materials. Growth is projected to rebound in 2021 with Burlington accounting for one-quarter of all new projected units in Chittenden County. New construction at Eric Farrell’s Cambrian Rise is expected to account for the majority of Burlington’s apartment growth in 2021- in the meantime, there is renewed optimism at the long delayed CityPlace Burlington project. The new proposal includes over 400 units of housing- but isn’t expected to contribute to growth figures until phase one is completed in 2023 (hopefully!). Nearly 25% of Chittenden County’s new apartment growth will be within existing buildings like hotels and office buildings that are being redeveloped. In Essex, apartment growth will be concentrated in three separate projects all in the Five Corners neighborhood whereas Winooski is projected to add additional units along the primary gateways, including East Allen and Main Street.
Demand from Multi Family investors fueled an increase in apartment sale prices, which similar to residential sales, was driven in part by historically low interest rates. The average sale price for 2020 was $552,952, up 16.3% from 2019. The average price per bedroom increased by 2.7% and the average price per square foot grew by 7.5%. Meanwhile, the annual rent inflation percentage has trended in the opposite direction from nearly 3% in 2015 to just over 1% in 2020. This data suggests that in 2020, landlords have been more focused on tenant retention and rent loss prevention versus increasing tenant rents to help offset the added operating expenses. Despite the increase in sale prices, Cap Rates remained relatively unchanged in large part due to flat rents and the average operating expense ratio growing from 30% to 33% over the past 6 years. Burlington Multi Family sales in 2020 saw an average sale price of $773,863 and a list to sale ratio of 96.6%. The average cap rate for sales in Burlington in 2020 was 6.77%.
As reported by numerous national publications, Burlington is consistently ranked as one of the top places in the United States to live. The Burlington region is now benefiting from a surge in remote workers migrating from major cities seeking a better quality of life coupled with an emerging hi-tech workforce- most notable at Russ Scully’s redeveloped 143,022 square foot HULA campus on Burlington’s waterfront. Despite the chaos of 2020, the Burlington area Multi Family market fundamentals are solid, and we continue to see strong investor confidence.
Having helped hundreds of local clients build wealth through real estate investing, the Lipkin Audette Team understands that, as is the case with any investment, a successful investment strategy needs to be designed to fit an individual’s particular set of needs and goals. If you’d like to speak with our team about how to get started or what the current market value of your property / portfolio might be, give us a call anytime at  846-9575 or email Steve@LipkinAudette.com.