Fewer apartment vacancies fuel builder confidence

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Strong condo demand and signs that the rental apartment market finally is emerging from its slump fueled the confidence of multifamily builders in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest Multifamily Market Index (MMI), released Wednesday by the National Association of Home Builders. The MMI's component index gauging current market conditions for for-sale units jumped to 64 in the first quarter, up from 46.7 in the first quarter of 2003. The indexes gauging current market conditions for low-income (subsidized) and market-rate apartments both were well above their levels of a year earlier, at 49.4 and 48.1, respectively. "The condo market continues to benefit from favorable interest rates and solid price appreciation, while stronger job growth is helping the apartment market," said NAHB President Bobby Rayburn, a home and apartment builder from Jackson, Miss. The MMI is based on a quarterly, nationwide survey of multifamily builders and property owners who are asked ...