Wilmington apartment occupancy rate highest in N.C.
July 9, 2012By J. Elias O'Neal
A recent report finds that Wilmington’s apartment market remains one of the strongest in the Southeast.
A report released by Charlotte-based Apartment Index, a firm that tracks multi-family apartment markets in the major metro markets of the Southeast, found the Port City’s average occupancy rate is now 93.8 percent, the highest in the state.
That’s slightly lower than the 94.3 percent rate reported last quarter.
High occupancy rates typically yield higher rents for tenants of multi-family apartment units. It’s also an economic indicator of job improvements to the local job market.
Wilmington tied with Orlando, Fla. as having the fourth highest occupancy rate ranking in the Southeast. Chattanooga, Tenn. reported the highest occupancy rate in the Southeast at 94.4 percent, followed by Savannah, Ga. at 94.1 percent and Roanoke, Va. at a 93.9 occupancy.
The Port City also remains at the top in North Carolina for low vacancy and high occupancy rates, according to the report.
Asheville posted the second-highest occupancy rate at 93.5 percent, followed by the Raleigh-Durham metro with 93.4 percent occupancy. And while healthy, the Triad region of Winston-Salem, High Point and Greensboro, and metro Charlotte reported the lowest occupancy rates this quarter at 91.6 percent and 93.3 percent, respectively.
But area and statewide rents are trending differently.
Despite seeing occupancy rates drop slightly, metro Wilmington’s average rents have increased from $715 per month to $760 per month this quarter, according to the report.
After a two-year lull in multi-family development across the region, Wilmington’s apartment market appears to be on the rebound.
More than 2,000 new apartment units are either under construction or are planned for the region. The majority of the units are in New Hanover County. Many of the new apartment developments are targeting high-growth areas and corridors, such as Eastwood Road near the Mayfaire area, and North Market Street in the Ogden and Porters Neck locations.
Niche apartment development, particularly for college students and active seniors, is also surging.
Engle Addington, an analyst with Real Data, said because of construction timelines set for the area’s many multi-family developments, overbuilding may not become an issue, for now.
"The construction timelines are staggered well enough for the market to absorb the majority of the units under construction now," Addington said. "Occupancies have improved because of strong demand and a lack of new supply."