Mar 14, 2023 - Economy

Smaller apartments are flooding the market

Average size of new apartments, 2022
Data: RentCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data; Note: Analysis includes U.S. metro areas (defined by Yardi Matrix market boundaries) with the most apartments located in multi-family buildings of 50 units or more; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Apartment sizes are shrinking nationally, a reversal in the rental market that saw units get bigger early in the work-from-home era.

Driving the news: New apartments in 2022 measured 887 square feet on average, a 30-square-foot drop from a year earlier, per a new report from listing service RentCafe.

  • That sharp decrease was fueled in part by more studios and one-bedroom apartments entering the market, researchers found.

The big picture: Nationwide, newly built apartments shed 54 square feet on average since 2013, per the report.

The Seattle area posted the smallest newer apartments at 659 square feet, 26% smaller than the national average.

  • The report analyzed the 100 U.S. metro areas with the most high-density units.
Data: RentCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Flashback: In 2020 and 2021, demand for more space resulted in larger unit configurations, RentCafe analyst Adina Dragos tells Axios.

  • "Fast forward to 2022, the demand for more apartments prompted developers to accommodate more units in their projects," Dragos says.
  • Case in point: 57% of apartments completed last year were small units.

What we're watching: Apartments under construction. As the market keeps fluctuating post-pandemic, their size could signal whether the trend of less spacious rentals will stick.

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