While many markets have struggled with new supply and softening multifamily fundamentals, Chicago has risen to the top of the national rankings for nearly all major multifamily metrics. According to Radix, net effective rent is up 5.7% year-over-year as of early June, making Chicago the fastest growing rent market in the nation by a significant margin. Occupancy in the Windy City is also up 23 basis points on an annual basis, the only market nationwide to register occupancy gains in the past 12 months. While both headlines and data show signs of outmigration and declining population in Cook County and the Chicagoland area, the metro’s apartment market remains resilient. Diving deeper into the data shows there is a major divergence between the urban core and suburban Chicago, as the market’s outsized growth is driven mostly by downtown submarkets. Suburban areas on the other hand continue to struggle with traffic and rent growth compared to their urban peers. This is unique to Chicago as the trend is reversed in most markets, with suburban submarkets far outperforming the urban core. The new supply pipeline is active, but not overly robust and deliveries will likely be absorbed without too much impact on the market. The majority of new supply is delivering in areas of high demand, which should keep Chicago balanced from a fundamental perspective.
Traffic and Leasing
Chicago apartments are averaging 11.2 tours per property per week, which is nearly two and a half tours higher than the national average.
Dense urban submarkets including the Loop, Gold Coast/River North, Lincoln Park/Old Town and City West dominate traffic. These submarkets are averaging more than 13 tours per property per week. The Loop is leading all submarkets with nearly 18 tours per property per week.
While the urban core submarkets are seeing the most traffic, recent gains have been made in the suburbs of Aurora/Naperville and Glen Ellyn/Wheaton. Both submarkets have seen traffic increase by at least two tours per property per week over the past month.
The increase in traffic is leading to leases in Glen Ellyn, as the submarket leads the metro with properties averaging 4.7 new leases signed per week. The Loop and Gold Coast/River North are also putting up strong leasing numbers as the average property in each submarket is signing more than 4.5 new leases each week.
The urban vs. suburban divergence shows up in nearly all operating metrics as the weakest traffic is in O’Hare, Glenview/Evanston and Wheeling. These submarkets with the addition of Glendale Heights/Lombard are also the submarkets with the lowest leasing activity.
Nationwide, occupancy has been on a steady decline from the Fall of 2021 through the beginning of 2023 in almost every market. Demand softened and new apartments continue to be delivered, putting additional pressure on occupancy rates. Chicago, however, remains the one market where occupancy has risen on a year-over-year basis. Not only is occupancy increasing, but the metro has 13 submarkets with average occupancy already above 95%.
Occupancy is the one metric where the suburban submarkets outperform their urban peers in Chicago, likely due to new supply being delivered at a much faster rate in the urban core.
Aurora/Naperville, East Lake County and O’Hare submarkets have the highest occupancy in the metro, as each submarket maintains an average occupancy rate of at least 96.3%.
While demand is highest in the urban core, these submarkets also have the most units available to rent. The Loop, City West and Lincoln Park/Old Town have the most available units per property across the metro. Given the demand in the downtown submarkets, the above average ATR numbers are not very troublesome to property operators.
Chicago’s rent growth leads the nation as our same store sample in the Windy City has recorded net effective rent growth of 5.7% over the past 12 months. The next closest market is Charleston, at just 4.6% annual rent growth.
Once again, the urban submarkets have led the way, as net effective rents in Lincoln Park/Old Town and the Loop are up 9.4% year-over-year.
All but 2 submarkets across the metro have seen rents rise in the past year. South Shore rents have fallen 70 basis points, while East Lake County rents are down 4.5%.
On a more recent basis, O’Hare and Gold Coast/River North rents are both up more than 4% in the past month.
Studios lead the way, as rents have increased 8.7% for the smallest unit type across the metro. Larger units have not performed as well, yet two- and three-bedroom rents are still up 3.7% and 3.8% respectively.
Not surprisingly, concessions are down across the metro. Several submarkets are offering no concessions while other submarkets have had concessions cut in half or more in recent months.
There are roughly 550 projects in various stages of the new supply pipeline in Chicago. While most of the projects are in planning and may drop out of the pipeline as rising interest rates have made construction projects harder to pencil, there are still 151 projects currently under construction in the metro.
Most are concentrated in the urban submarkets, with major new projects delivering in the Loop, Gold Coast/River North and Lincoln Park. There are also a handful of projects scattered around the southern and western suburbs.
When considering the projects in planning, the suburban submarkets are better represented, but again, those projects could easily fall out of the pipeline, especially as demand has been concentrated in the urban core and has been much weaker in the outlying areas.
Radix ProForma and Radix Research are powerful tools that work together to analyze multifamily real estate markets, like Chicago , and portfolios comprehensively. With Radix ProForma, development and acquisition teams can make proactive decisions based on real-time data and historical trends, giving them a crucial advantage in a rapidly changing economic environment.Leveraging Radix Research, stakeholders can benchmark and evaluate the performance of live properties and portfolios at submarket, market, and national levels, accessing a wide range of data analytics that streamline the research process. By using these products together, you can fully understand your current and potential markets to make informed decisions that drive success for your multifamily investments.
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