Pittsburgh's multifamily real estate rebirth

How 'Steel City' avoided Detroit's destiny

Over the last decade, this is where apartment complexes got built: in Houston, where the vacancy rate now stands at 10.2 percent; in Jacksonville, a vacancy rate of 9.7 percent; in Las Vegas, with a 9.2 percent vacancy rate; in Atlanta, a vacancy rate of 9.1 percent; and in Phoenix, a vacancy rate of 8.3 percent.

This is the one town big apartment developers simply avoided: Pittsburgh, Pa.

Too bad, because the old steel city is experiencing a workplace renaissance, and finally, after years of emigration, a population stabilization. The vacancy rate for Pittsburgh’s multifamily market chalks in at a sparkling 3.2 percent, the second best in the country after San Jose, Calif., according to the National Association of Realtors.

That’s right — San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and Pittsburgh, sharing the same spotlight. Who’d have thunk it?

Daniel Murrer and his father own a small apartment building of 22 units in Pittsburgh. It has been 100 percent leased since last September, and they have renewals for every single unit through April 2012.