Welcome back to our recap of the latest issue of the Apartment Advisor! This is the Development Issue–check out Part 1 here–and we’ve got a bit more to cover, so we’ll jump right back in. If you’ll recall, we were recapping the major development peaks of the last century–because they illustrate the evolution of the current apartment, and allow us to look to the future in new ways. Here we go!
Peak #3: Post-War Dream
- Peak year: 1951
- Government sponsored: Modern politicians didn’t invent the idea of an economic stimulus. After World War II, when rental housing development had failed to pick up for nearly two decades, the government began insuring mortgages in its FHA 608 program. Through the program, it wasn’t unheard of to get 115% financing.
- Signature style: Buildings financed through the FHA 608 program came to be known as “608-ers.” Garden court style buildings had become popular in the run up to the war, and most 608 buildings were either garden courts, urban low-rises, or high-rise buildings. Archstone Belltown is an example of a 608er that still remains today.
Peak #4: Hello, Boomers!
- Peak year: 1970
- The age of the appliance: While apartments had downsized after the peak of 1951, the seventies saw them moving away from the 1955-1965 Pullman-kitchen motel model and back towards garden courts. Balconies (often called lanais), dishwashers, and disposals became standard features; fireplaces and washer-dryers began to show up as well.
- Hello, boomers: Baby boomers were just coming of age between 1966-1970; for the very first time, they were moving out of their parents houses and forming new households with their spouses or on their own. Young boomers often had families fairly quickly, and average density dropped to just 33 units per acre, as renters flocked towards apartments with more space for children to play.
Peaks #5, 6 & 7: As Boomers Go, So Goes our Nation
- Peak years: 1980, 1990, and 2002
- Apartments grow up: In the 1980s, as baby boomers moved into their thirties, their needs changed. They often had more income, and needed more bedrooms for their families. Covered parking and garages started appearing more during this time.
- …And up: The 1990s found the Boomers in their forties and fifties with more disposable income than ever before. As apartments competed with housing for sale, convenience, size, and security became paramount; it was during this boom that average ceiling heights jumped to nine feet. These trends continued through the early 2000s, especially as families found their way back to renting during the housing market downturn.
What Will This Peak Bring Us?
So that pretty much brings us up to speed on the past. Looking at the evolution that multifamily buildings have gone through over the years, one thing is very clear: the apartment market adapts–and quickly–to the needs and styles of the day. With Dupre + Scott forecasting the current uptick in the apartment market to peak in 2015, just what are our needs and styles today–and what will they be in a couple of years?
First of all, we may need less space. As the Advisor points out, ten or twenty years ago, we filled our apartments with the things we loved–CDs, books, the list goes on. But today, we keep nearly all of those things on e-readers, phones, or in the cloud; you don’t need a lot of space to keep your culture with you wherever you are. And so we are beginning to see more micro-apartments–the Den on Brooklyn is about to begin construction in the U-District next month, with units averaging 300 square feet–as well as micro-neighborhoods, where ground-floor commercial space gives us an alternative space to recreate in.
We are also seeing the next generation of renters–trends no longer begin and end with the baby boomers. Renters today are younger, more mobile, and have different expectations on what it means to call a space home. Whatever the next few years bring, one thing is certain: the apartment market will adapt, staying relevant even as our needs evolve yet again.
Thanks for joining us! Remember to check out all of the data in the current issue of Apartment Advisor, over at DupreScott.com. Have a great Labor Day weekend!