Construction’s up and it’s not even “the big one”

Government statistics revealed a pickup in the construction of multifamily housing in December. The numbers were likely due to warm weather and it's just as possible that January's cold snap in many parts of the country will create a reversal in the next set survey.

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So says Mark Obrinsky, chief economist for the National Multi Housing Council. He expected to see December housing starts to be higher than usual. Starts of multifamily housing jumped 42 percent, according to the Commerce Department.

Industry observers believe that multifamily housing throughout the country is just starting to normalize.

Wide spread condo construction is coming to an end. Renters aren’t fleeing apartments to take on home-ownership as in previous years. Rents are rising modestly, and are predicted this year to rise at, or a bit higher than, the rate of inflation.

Many say that we’re several years away from the “big one,” that is when large numbers of echo boomers, children of the baby boomers, move out of the dorms and into their first apartments, more supply of rental units may be needed. Around the same time, their parents may be interested in downsizing from a house to a condo.

A demographic trend like that could create a genuine spike in building, one that lasts beyond a warm holiday season.