Cautious Optimism With a Side of Corn Pudding

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the things in our life for which we are truly grateful. For me, that’s family, friends and pants with an elastic waistband. And the sweet potato.

But the list doesn’t end there.

I’m thankful that this November—unlike last—I did not trip running for the bus, skid down the pavement with my palms (and a can of tuna I was carrying for lunch) acting as brakes and promptly pass out in the grass.

I’m thankful that I will never, ever, ever run out of Band-Aids after putting a couple thousand dollars in my (use it by the end of the year or lose it) Flexible Spending Account for LASIK, a surgery that I will no longer be getting.

And lastly, I’m thankful that I’m not tied down to anyone and can embark upon my 25th year—as I’ve embarked upon every year in my 20s—without any idea whatsoever who I will end up with.

What can I say, I’m blessed.

Fortunately, so is the apartment industry.

After a couple of really tough years, many industry experts and professionals are looking to 2012 with cautious optimism. This Thanksgiving, they are grateful that although 2011 may not have lived up to everyone’s expectations, things—nearly everyone would argue—didn’t get worse. And the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter.

To begin with, occupancy is expected to remain healthy, according to Greg Willett, Vice President of Research and Analysis for MPF Research. He says young adults, many of whom are renters, are getting most of the jobs that are available but loss of renters to housing purchase will remain way below the historical norm.

I’m no expert, but I agree with Willett. I can’t decide if I want frozen green beans or frozen broccoli cuts for dinner, let alone where I want to live permanently, so I think it’s safe to say the majority of my generation is looking for apartments right now, not homes. With very little new product in 2012, demand will be high.

Continued rent growth should also be on nearly every apartment owner and manager’s list of Thanksgiving thank-yous. In 2011, the Pacific Northwest saw rent increases of 6 percent to 8 percent, as did spots such as Austin, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York and Pittsburgh, Willett says. A Washington, D.C., resident myself, I assure you my landlord wasn’t pinching pennies either. And let’s not forget San Francisco and San Jose, markets that realized double-digit annual rent growth.

I think I speak for everyone in Las Vegas when I say you Bay Area apartment professionals better not complain about so much as the fog this year.

For apartment experts’ take on 2011 and a look ahead at 2012, check out the articles “Just Wait ‘Til Next Year” and “Cautious Optimism” in the November issue of units, which mailed Nov. 8. The e-version is available here.