Only Small Apartment Markets Claim Occupancy Gains

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Among the 150 largest apartment markets in U.S., the only ones to see any occupancy growth in the year-ending October 2023 were small markets, according to data from RealPage Market Analytics. These top performing markets are spread out geographically and have widely varying levels of new deliveries. But beyond their smaller size, they tend to have a couple things in common. A few college markets made the list, including Lansing-East Lansing (home to Michigan State University), Fort Collins (home to Colorado State) and Champaign-Urbana (home to University of Illinois). Champagne-Urbana is also the only market on this list that received no new supply over the past year. Another handful of markets on this list reside near a bigger metro area. For example, Worcester near Boston claims the strongest annual occupancy change in the nation in the year-ending October. Meanwhile, Salinas, which is about an hour south of San Jose, boasts average monthly rents about $700 cheaper than San Jose. Finally, many of these top performers are on the larger side of a small market classification, based on economic and cultural profiles. Bridgeport and Harrisburg fit this profile – and have also both added about 1,000 units of apartment supply in the last year. Midland/Odessa is perhaps the wildcard on this list, though not when considering the boom-and-bust nature of this oil-dependent market. Nationwide occupancy was down 20 basis points (bps) month-over-month and 100 bps year-over-year, landing at 94.3% in October 2023.