While construction rates have been low overall since the pandemic, construction rates can potentially vary significantly depending on the type of building you’re looking at. This can be the result of different levels of demand or zoning regulations. Recent zoning reforms have tried to push construction more towards multi-family residences, believing that zoning is the primary obstacle.
However, if recent numbers are any indicator, there simply isn’t much demand for multi-family residences. Construction starts on buildings with five or more units dropped by 6.7% in March. Permits for such buildings also fell sharply, by 24.3%. At the same time, construction of single-family residences (SFRs) increased by 2.7%, and SFR construction permits increased by 4.1%. Overall, construction starts dipped down 0.8% and permits decreased by 8.8%.
Even though this wasn’t the goal of the zoning reforms, not everyone sees this as a bad thing. SFRs being in higher demand could signal that more people are ready to buy as opposed to rent. However, since it’s not renters but potential landlords that would create demand for multi-family residences, it’s also possible that homeowners simply aren’t seeing the value in renting the units out, leaving potential tenants in the dust.