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2024 Recession Debate and What it Means for Apartment Investors



Economic news can feel a rollercoaster ride these days.  Are we heading for a recession, or is there a soft landing on the horizon?  Or are we already in a recession?  The answer, like many things in life, is nuanced.


A Recession May Already Be Underway 


Experts at Real Page and Cushman & Wakefield say the U.S. is already experiencing a "rolling recession," where different sectors of the economy slow down at different times. They argue that interest rate-sensitive industries, like tech and certain office-based jobs, are feeling the pinch sooner than other industries. 

 

JP Morgan Chase’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, has been warning for months that the U.S. is headed toward stagflation, a nasty combination of high inflation and stagnant growth, reminiscent of the 1970s.   


Meanwhile...


Education, healthcare, and government jobs are still experiencing growth.  And Fed governor Christopher Waller recently said, "the probability of a recession seems to have disappeared off the table," suggesting a more optimistic outlook.


The Bright Side for Apartment Investors 


What does this mean for real estate investors, particularly those in the apartment market?  While a recession might bring some headwinds, it's not all doom and gloom.  

 

In a blog post on May 20th, Carl Whitaker, Chief Economist at RealPage Analytics, cited several factors that support strong apartment demand:  

 

  • Overall job growth is still strong:  This translates to a healthy demand for housing.

 

  • Education and healthcare are thriving: These sectors provide consistent renters, bolstering apartment market stability. 

 

  • The Fed might have achieved a soft landing:  This would prevent a significant slowdown in the housing market. 

 

  • Rents are relatively stable: “The drag on higher wage sectors hasn't translated to slowing Class A performance.” 

RealPage writer Kim O’Brien believes 2024 could be “a banner year” for apartment demand. In an article on April 12th, she noted that... 

 

  • Apartment absorption in Q1 2024 was 103,800 units:  More than 2x Q4 2023. 

  • Demand is catching up with supply:  We are heading toward a healthy market equilibrium, even with new apartment construction. 

 

Multifamily real estate has been, and continues to be, a relatively recession-resistant asset class because it meets a fundamental need of every human being - shelter. 


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