Rental Groups: Charleston Needs to Add 1,000 Apartments a Year by 2030 to Keep up with Demand

Strong economic growth in the Charleston area and a rising population are contributing to fuel a need for more apartments, according to countrywide research sponsored by two large trade organizations.

The Lowcountry is expected to require 13,388 new apartments by 2030 to keep up with local demand, notes the study commissioned by the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association. The rental-related support groups estimate 4.6 million new apartments are needed nationwide in the next 13 years, the result of an aging population, international immigration and fewer house purchases as shoppers choose apartments instead.

“Nationally and here in Charleston, we’re experiencing fundamental shifts in our housing dynamics, as more people are moving away from buying houses and choosing apartments instead,” says Lisa Pelloni, president of the Charleston Apartment Association. “Charleston is experiencing continued economic growth in all major job sectors, leading to more people moving to the area,” she says.

Local totals supplied by the multifamily housing council and the national apartment association include:

Charleston ranks 16th out of 50 metro areas in the rate of increase — 23 percent — in new apartments needed by 2030.The area will require a variety of apartment styles and sizes, from value to luxury prices.There are 58,415 apartments in the Charleston metro area with residents spanning the age and income spectrum, the study’s author estimates.Apartment developers, owners, managers and residents contribute $1.4 billion yearly to the local economy.

The study in its national outlook cited three groups expected to increase in population and be inclined to rent. People age 65-plus will account for a large part of population growth, and older renters are helping to drive future apartment demand, the study notes. International immigration accounts for 51 percent of new population growth in the U.S., and immigrants have a higher propensity to rent and typically rent for longer periods of time, it says. And more adults are delaying house purchases. According to the findings, life events such as marriage and children are the largest drivers of home ownership. In 1960, 44 percent of all households in the U.S. were married couples with children. Today, it’s 19 percent, and the trend is expected to continue, the report says.

“Apartment rentals are on the rise, and this trend is expected to continue at least through 2030, which means we’ll need millions of new apartments in the U.S. to meet the increased demand,” says Cindy Clare, chair of the National Apartment Association. “The western U.S. as well as states such as Texas, Florida and North Carolina are expected to have the greatest need for new apartment housing through 2030, although all states will need more apartment housing moving forward,” she says.

Also, there will be a rising need to renovate and improve existing apartment buildings. According to the study, 51 percent of the apartment homes were built before 1980, or 11.7 million units that could need upgrading by 2030. The older complexes are highly concentrated in the northeast, the report notes.

“The growing demand for apartments – combined with the need to renovate thousands of apartment buildings across the country – will make a significant and positive impact on our nation’s economy for years to come,” says Bob DeWitt, chair of the National Multifamily Housing Council. “For frame of reference, apartments and their 39 million residents contribute $1.3 trillion to the national economy. As the industry continues to grow, so will this tremendous economic contribution,” he says.

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