DataMarkets & Economy

New apartment size shrinking as developers focus on smaller layouts

Rental construction in the Midwest faces the largest square footage drop compared to a decade ago
  • Rentals built since 2010 are 7 percent smaller than those built between 2000 and 2009.
  • Midwest markets posted the biggest size drop during the time period, at 9 percent.
  • About 80 percent of the average size reduction is due to a change in living unit sizes.

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The tiny house movement doesn’t fit every lifestyle, but that’s not stopping developers from scaling back new apartment sizes. Average square footage for new construction rentals dropped 71 square feet in the past six years compared to the early 2000s, according to a new study of the top 20 metros from Robert Charles Lesser & Co. Advisory (RCLCO). Units built between 2000 and 2009 averaged 988 square feet, while units built since 2010 average 917 square feet. Although a 7 percent reduction isn’t necessarily staggering, renters looking for more breathing room might consider resales instead. Some of these shifts are more obvious in the mid-range markets, where developers are gearing their efforts toward studios and one-bedrooms over larger unit types. Cramped? Move South Unit size is shrinking across the country, with Midwest markets showing the biggest drop at 9 percent from the previous decade. New apartments in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and St. Louis...