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Apartment construction is cooling in the D.C. metro area, study says

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But it appears to be up in Arlington, where Amazon is putting its new headquarters

A sky shot of buildings in Washington, D.C. A crane is seen above one of the buildings.
Buildings in D.C.
Getty Images

The D.C. area is seeing a slowdown in the number of apartments being built, according to a new report from listings service RentCafe, and the data are part of a national trend. In 2019, about 9,300 apartments in the metropolitan region are expected to come on the market by the end of the year, representing a decrease of roughly 26 percent as compared with 2018, when 13,000 apartments were delivered. Across the U.S., 8.2 percent fewer apartments are set to be completed by the end of 2019 (299,000) than were completed last year (326,000).

RentCafe ranked the D.C. metro ninth out of the top 20 U.S. metros for apartment openings, below Dallas-Fort Worth, Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles, among other cities, but above Houston, Chicago, Denver, and Boston. Of the 9,300 or so apartments projected to open up in the region this year, the District accounts for about half, or 4,050. But nearby Arlington is witnessing a bump in residential construction, with some 2,170 units being built. Rent Cafe cites the plans for Amazon’s new Northern Virginia headquarters as a driver of this activity.

A bar graph showing the expected apartment delivery in various parts of the D.C. area. The District proper leads the way with 4,059 expected units.
Expected 2019 apartment delivery in the D.C. area
Rent Cafe

Far fewer units are under construction in Fredericksburg, Silver Spring, and Alexandria: just 458, 431, and 306, respectively, per Rent Cafe. The company looked at data on buildings of 50 or more units across 134 metro areas, compiled by real estate analytics firm Yardi Matrix. It notes that between 2017 and 2018, the D.C. area’s population grew a little under 1 percent.

“Despite growing demand across the U.S., apartment construction started to face some challenges beginning with 2018,” Rent Cafe explains. “High construction costs and a narrow pool of skilled labor are just a few of the factors hindering the development of new apartment units.” A recent report by the National Apartment Association outlined other such factors, including limited land availability, infrastructure challenges, and regulatory restrictions.